Friends, Healthy Pasta Salad exists! Loaded with fun shape whole grain pasta and bite size pieces of veggies, this easy pasta salad is dressed in same bowl. My kids loved it and you can change things up to suite yours.
Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
All right. I’m finally on a healthy pasta salad bandwagon. It is my second summer when I rotate between quinoa salads, vegetable salads and now pasta salad. Italian pasta salad and tomato pasta salad are my other favorites.
Now that we live by the ocean, I think salad with a glass of chilled rose, La Croix or kombucha is a given. Choice depends on if “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere”.
My pasta salad recipe is easy, juicy and simple. You can serve it warm or cold. Take it with you to a potluck, picnic or host a BBQ or a pool party at home. It is the best summer food!
What Goes in Pasta Salad?
- Pasta – Obviously. On that below.
- Firm Veggies – Asparagus, green beans, snap peas, broccoli that get softened within a few minutes of cooking.
- Tomatoes – I highly recommend not to skip tomatoes. Maximum you can replace them with 1 long English cucumber. Tomatoes add so much juice making this pasta salad healthy without loads of dressing.
- Cheese – Soft cheese like feta or goat cheese. Warm pasta melts it so well. But even freshly grated Parmesan cheese is tasty.
- Pickled stuff – Pitted Kalamata or green olives. Pickled asparagus, dill pickles, roasted red pepper, beets and any veggies would be good.
- Olive oil – Quality extra virgin olive oil is the best for the salad. Here are 3 oils I mainly use.
Obviously, mine looks kind of Greek. And vegetarian.
What Is the Best Healthy Pasta to Use?
OK, here is what I (ME) consider a healthy pasta. And let’s agree that some people consider pasta not healthy at all. Then we can’t be friends.:)
- To me, healthy pasta is whole wheat, whole grain or most gluten free pasta made with whole foods like beans, legumes and seeds.
- As for the shape, I like to use small shapes like elbow macaroni, bowties, orzo or small penne. Rotini is fine too. See tips below for large pasta.
Pasta Tips for Healthy Pasta Salad
- Size – If using larger size pasta like rotini, keep add-ins chopped small.
- Cook time – Cook pasta with salt and until al dente – helps with non-sticking and firm pasta.
- Gluten free pasta cooks faster than other.
- Refrigerate – Let pasta salad stand for 30 minutes before serving. It helps ingredients really “marry each other”.
Veggie tip: Chop all ingredients into same small bite size pieces. Even olives.
- Vegetarian – Healthy pasta salad makes filling vegetarian meal on its own. With 26 grams of complex carbs coming from whole grains and veggies, be sure your belly will be full. Just maybe double the serving.
- Chicken – Craving some chicken with the salad? We have these easy recipes for you: baked, grilled or Instant Pot chicken breast.
- Easy – Open a can of tuna or salmon and toss it in there.:)
How Long Does It Last?
Can you freeze pasta salad? Um, heck no. I hope we are clear on that.:)
In the fridge, pasta salad should last 2 days. Pasta salad is like borscht and stew – it tastes better the next day. But to be honest, my kids love this salad so much it has never lived long enough to see our world past 24 hours. But 2 days covered and refrigerated guarantee fresh pasta salad. 3 days – you are pushing it. Depends how hungry you are.:)
More Healthy Potluck Salads
Healthy Pasta Salad
- 8 oz whole grain pasta uncooked
- 1 lb asparagus green beans or snap peas
- 6 medium tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup pitted olives chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1/3 cup parsley finely chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Cook pasta as per package instructions undercooking by 2-3 minutes or until pasta is al dente, cooked but firm. While pasta is cooking, start chopping asparagus or green beans.
- Transfer cooked pasta to a large salad bowl. Add asparagus to pasta water and cook until it starts to boil. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon to a bowl with pasta.
- Add tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, parsley, olive oil, oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine.
- If you have time, it's best to let healthy pasta salad refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors "marry" each other. But you can serve it warm immediately or cold later.
Store: Refrigerate in a glass airtight container for up to 2 days.
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