by Olena

Healthy Pasta Salad

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Olena Osipov
5 from 4 votes

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Friends, Healthy Pasta Salad exists! Loaded with fun shape whole grain pasta and bite size pieces of veggies, this easy pasta salad recipe is dressed in the same bowl. You can change up ingredients to suit your family’s needs.

Our other healthy and easy summer favorites include Italian pasta salad, healthy chicken salad and white bean salad.

healthy pasta salad

Easy Healthy Pasta Salad Recipe

All right. I’m finally on a healthy pasta salad bandwagon. It is my second summer when I rotate between avocado egg salad, tomato pasta salad and cauliflower potato salad when it comes to easy lunch, cold dinner or a backyard get-together with friends.

My healthy pasta salad recipe is easy, juicy and simple. I combine juicy tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, green beans for protein and crunch, salty olives and lots of fresh parsley and luscious extra virgin olive oil. It can be healthy cold pasta salad or serve warm while warm pasta is melting feta. Take it with you to a potluck, picnic or host a BBQ or a pool party at home. It is the best summer food!

Is salad pasta healthy? This 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. This turkey pasta bake and ground turkey and broccoli pasta are super popular healthy pasta recipes on iFOODreal, and for a reason. They pack nutrition, flavor and convenience.

Ingredients for Healthy 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 extra pasta salad 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.
  • Seasonings

This healthy summer pasta salad looks kind of Greek salad. And vegetarian.

chopped olives, tomatoes, peas, parsley, crumbled feta, cooked pasta in a bowl

How to Make Healthy Pasta Salad

  • Cook pasta with salt until al dente: Salt prevents pasta sticking to each other and keeps it firm. Also undercooking or cooking until firm is the best pasta for a salad because it won’t become a mush once tossed. Prep veggies while pasta is cooking.
  • Cook asparagus/green beans in pasta water: Let cooked pasta sit in a salad bowl to cool off a bit (completely is not necessary because it melts feta nicely). Cook firm green veggies in pasta water for a minute or two.
  • Combine all ingredients together: I do not make healthy pasta salad dressing separately but you can. I just add cooked asparagus, feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, herbs, spices and olive oil to the salad bowl with pasta and toss gently.
  • Let pasta salad sit for 30 minutes: Place it in the fridge and let all flavors “marry” each other. You will see this half an hour makes all the difference for cold pasta salad in the world!

Tips and Variations

OK, here is what I consider a healthy pasta. And let’s agree that some people consider pasta not healthy at all.

  • What pasta is healthy? Whole wheat, whole grain or most gluten free pasta made with whole foods like beans, legumes and seeds. Just keep in mind that grain free pasta cooks faster, so keep an eye.
  • What pasta shape/size is best for pasta salad? I like to use small shapes like elbow macaroni, bowties, orzo or small penne. Rotini is fine too. If using larger size pasta like rotini, keep add-ins chopped small.
  • Uniform size pieces: Chop all ingredients into same small bite size pieces, even olives. It helps with even distribution of all ingredients and salad dressing in every bite.
  • Make it vegan: Omit feta cheese and use nutritional yeast in place of it, or olives will add enough umami flavor, to be honest.
  • Make healthy chicken pasta salad: Add leftover grilled chicken breast, or Instant Pot shredded chicken and this healthy summer pasta salad is dinner.
  • Make healthy tuna pasta salad: Open a can of tuna or salmon and toss it in there. Salmon bones are so soft and juices delicious, they will make this pasta salad extra delicious. We always toss entire can contents in this canned salmon salad.

How to Store and Make Ahead

Can you freeze pasta salad? No. General rule of thumb in cooking is not to freeze any or anything dish with cooked pasta.

Store: In the fridge, healthy 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 summer 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.

Make ahead: Add all ingredients except oil and salt to a salad bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil, toss and let marinate for 30 minutes. Good thing it will be already cold, even more delish. Salt makes all veggies go limp and pasta soaks up oil quickly, that’s why these two ingredients go in last.

More Healthy Potluck Salads

healthy pasta salad recipe with veggies closeup
Healthy Pasta Salad

Healthy Pasta Salad

Healthy Pasta Salad loaded with fun shape whole grain pasta and bite size pieces of veggies, this easy pasta salad recipe is dressed in the same bowl. You can change up ingredients to suit your family's needs.
5 from 4 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American Ukrainian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 261kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

    Make ahead: Add all ingredients except oil and salt to a salad bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil, toss and let marinate for 30 minutes. Good thing it will be already cold, even more delish. Salt makes all veggies go limp and pasta soaks up oil quickly, that's why these two ingredients go in last.

      Notes

      • What pasta is healthy? Whole wheat, whole grain or most gluten free pasta made with whole foods like beans, legumes and seeds. Just keep in mind that grain free pasta cooks faster, so keep an eye.
      • What pasta shape/size is best for pasta salad? I like to use small shapes like elbow macaroni, bowties, orzo or small penne. Rotini is fine too. If using larger size pasta like rotini, keep add-ins chopped small.
      • Uniform size pieces: Chop all ingredients into same small bite size pieces, even olives. It helps with even distribution of all ingredients and salad dressing in every bite.
      • Make it vegan: Omit feta cheese and use nutritional yeast in place of it, or olives will add enough umami flavor, to be honest.
      • Make healthy chicken pasta salad: Add leftover grilled chicken breast, or Instant Pot shredded chicken and this healthy summer pasta salad is dinner.
      • Make healthy tuna pasta salad: Open a can of tuna or salmon and toss it in there. Salmon bones are so soft and juices delicious, they will make this pasta salad extra delicious. We always toss entire can contents in this canned salmon salad.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1cup | Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 451mg | Potassium: 438mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1533IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 3mg
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