Healthy Pasta Salad with whole grain pasta and bite sized veggies, all dressed in the same bowl with a flavorful dressing. It’s the perfect summer side dish!

Other pasta salad recipes we love include Mediterranean pasta salad and Italian pasta salad.

Healthy pasta salad in a glass bowl.

This healthy pasta salad recipe combines hearty whole grain pasta, juicy tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, crisp vegetables for texture, salty olives, lots of fresh parsley, and luscious extra virgin olive oil for the best pasta salad ever!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • A crowd pleaser: This salad is out of this world!
  • Make ahead: It can be made in advance for any summertime holiday celebration.
  • Versatile: A perfect side dish to take with you to a potluck, picnic, or host a BBQ with.
  • Easy recipe: No complicated ingredients or steps.

Ingredients for Healthy Pasta Salad

This pasta salad recipe is full of fresh and tasty ingredients plus makes enough to serve a crowd!

Whole grain pasta, tomatoes, asparagus, snap peas, feta, olive oil, parsley, olives, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  • Whole grain pasta: I like to use whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta made with whole foods like beans and legumes. Use any short pasta with crevices like elbow macaroni, bow ties or penne.
  • Veggies: Asparagus, green beans, snap peas, broccoli or zucchini. Any quick cooking vegetable that gets softened within a few minutes of cooking.
  • Tomatoes: I highly recommend not to skip tomatoes. Tomatoes add so much juice making this pasta salad healthy without loads of extra dressing. Use grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. If you don’t have any, you can replace tomatoes with one long English cucumber.
  • Cheese: Soft cheese like feta cheese adds just the right amount of creaminess. Goat cheese, fresh mozzarella or parmesan cheese would equally work well!
  • Olives: Pitted Kalamata olives or green olives add a briny, pickled taste. Anything pickled could also be used such as pickled asparagus, dill pickles, roasted red pepper, or beets.
  • Olive oil: Quality extra virgin olive oil is the best for any salad.
  • Dressing: Dried oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  • Fresh parsley: Adds a fresh earthy taste. You can also use other fresh herbs like fresh basil or dill.

How to Make Healthy Pasta Salad

Made with simple ingredients, this healthy pasta salad is ready in 20 minutes. Then after a quick chill in the fridge, it’s ready to eat in under an hour.

Step by step process how to make healthy pasta salad.
  • Cook pasta until al dente. In a large pot of salted water, add pasta and cook until firm. Salt prevents pasta from sticking to each other. Prep veggies while pasta is cooking.
  • Cook vegetables in pasta water. Transfer cooked pasta to a large bowl. Cook firm green veggies in pasta water for a minute or two.
  • Combine all ingredients together. I do not make the dressing separately but you can. I just add cooked vegetables, feta cheese, tomatoes, olives, herbs, spices, and olive oil to the salad bowl with pasta and toss gently.
  • Let 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 the best cold pasta salad in the world!

Tips for Best Results

Here are my top tips for delicious healthier pasta salad and so you can use what you have on hand.

  • 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.
  • Don’t overcook pasta: Undercooking or cooking pasta until al dente is the best for salads because it won’t become a mush once tossed.
  • Gluten free pasta: Also keep in mind that gluten-free pasta cooks faster, so keep an eye on your pot.
  • Add greens: Also can add fresh baby spinach, arugula or finely chopped kale to the salad.

What to Serve Healthy Pasta Salad With?

With 26 grams of complex carbs coming from whole grains and veggies, this salad can be a filling meal on its own.

During the summertime, it pairs with proteins like grilled chicken breast, carne asada steak or grilled salmon.

In fall or winter, pair with baked boneless chicken thighs or pan fried chicken breast.

As far as other side dishes go, serve it along grilled vegetables or healthy broccoli salad.

How to Make Ahead

To make healthy pasta salad ahead of time, 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.

Salt makes all veggies go limp and pasta soaks up oil quickly, that’s why these two ingredients go in last.

How to Store

In the fridge, leftovers should last 2 days. It does taste better the next day. But to be honest, my kids love this pasta salad so much it has never lived long enough to see our world past 24 hours.

But stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days guarantees freshness. 3 days would be too long.


Is pasta salad healthy?

Some pasta salads are healthy and some are not. I think a pasta salad made with a lot of vegetables, whole grain pasta and olive oil can be enjoyed in moderation and called “healthy”.

What pasta shape or size is best for pasta salad?

I like to use small shapes like elbow macaroni, bowties (farfalle), orzo or small penne. Rotini is fine too. If using larger size pasta like rotini or fusilli, keep add-ins chopped small.

Can I add protein?

Yes, add diced Instant Pot chicken breast or salmon and toss it in there. Keep it vegetarian with Instant Pot garbanzo beans.

Can I freeze pasta salad?

No. General rule of thumb in cooking is not to freeze any or anything dish with cooked pasta. Plus, some of the vegetables may not hold up well during freezing/thawing.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Also be sure to browse over 50 healthy salad recipes!

Looking down on a bowl of pasta salad with tomatoes, peas, olives and feta. Linen towel and wooden spoon on a counter.
Healthy pasta salad with vegetables in a serving bowl.

Healthy Pasta Salad

Healthy Pasta Salad with whole grain pasta, bite sized veggies and dressed in the same bowl with a flavorful dressing.
5 from 12 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 261
Diet Low Fat
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes



  • 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.
  • What pasta shape and 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.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 451mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American Ukrainian
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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  1. Well, now I know what I’ll be making either tomorrow or the next… have asparagus in the fridge waiting to be used quickly. This is perfect! I know it will be good as everything I’ve made from your site didn’t disappoint.
    Thanks for you devotion to your site and making healthy recipes – along with some you noted as
    healthy-ish!! I’ve loved everything I’ve made over the last few years since I found your site… friends I’ve passed your site on to also have enjoyed your recipes!!
    I’ll come back & rate this as soon as I make it. However, I know this will be good. And, I love the fact that you can cook the asparagus in the pasta water, too!! I have another bunch of asparagus to use after making this recipe so I will be looking for another recipe to use the second bunch of asparagus.

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious! Added some diced red onion and chopped bell pepper for some extra veg and used banza gluten free chickpea pasta. To keep it dairy free we added on the side some tofu feta. Perfect for a hot summer night! Will make again.

  3. 5 stars
    I was so excited to eat this and it did NOT disappoint. It is so delicious and even my husband had a big second helping!

  4. 5 stars
    It’s super good, but needs a little more omph! Maybe something with spice? I loved how you recommended blanching some of the veggies. Also, feta is so good in it. Thanks! I’d like more like this.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Olena…. I love your recipes and am so excited to find a young girl that enjoys cooking as much as I have my whole life. I am 80 years young.
    I have made and shared your recipe for baked chicken with smoked paprika. Everyone loves it.
    This Healthy Pasta Salad is the Bomb! I called it a Greek Salad because that’s what it tastes like to me. One thing I wanted to ask you do was check the cooking instructions. I think step # 4 is a mistake or some items were left out of ingredients list. Keep challenging us to cook and eat healthy. Love ?

    1. Hi Shirley! Thank you so much for your positive feedback on my salad and chicken recipes. You are right. There was a mistake on the recipe page. It has now been fixed. Thanks for reaching out 🙂

    1. Every recipe has nutritional info at the bottom of the recipe. For a one cup serving of pasta salad, there are 247 calories. Hope that helps!

5 from 12 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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