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Cyndi Allison - Grill Girl

Easy Pasta Salad

Pasta for Salad
Pretty Pasta for Salad

When I was a young mother, I often needed dishes to take to gatherings but didn’t have much time, energy, or money. I enjoy get-togethers (especially barbecues) and like to take good recipes, so I created a super easy pasta dish with items on hand. My pasta salad is simple and quick to make, and it makes a nice presentation. It can also be varied for different tastes.

Basic Pasta Salad Recipe

3 cups pasta (cooked and drained)
2 cups chopped vegetables
½ cup Italian dressing (bottled oil based—not creamy)

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Mix with vegetables. Pour dressing over and lightly mix until everything is covered with dressing. Chill for at least an hour before serving. It’s best made the night before.

Tips for Good Results

Most any type of pasta cut in short sections will work with this recipe. Even basic macaroni noodles are fine. But, I think the spirals taste and look the best. My top picks are the colored spirals in green or mixed colors.

Firm vegetables work best. I generally use carrots, celery, and broccoli pieces. These stay crunchy and also have a nice color balance/contrast.

Any Italian dressing works fine—even the low fat. My favorite is Kraft zesty.


As I mentioned, any short cut noodles are good. It is harder to get the tube shaped ones mixed well with the dressing. In addition to spirals, the bowties and wagon wheels are good selections.

Any vegetable you use in basic green salads work well with this salad other than lettuce. Cucumbers, onions, and squash are other favorites that give this dish a different look and feel. Tomatoes can be added, but it’s better to put those in right before serving. If they go in early, they make the salad kind of watery, and the texture of the tomatoes starts breaking down fast.

There are seasoning packs designed for pasta salads. Those are good. I especially like McCormick though it is not available around here. Any homemade Italian dressing will work, and they all have slightly different flavors.


Any good sized bowl is fine, but the Sheerly Elegant bowls from the Tupperware collection look extra nice. They are clear with colors running about half way up and matching tight seal colored lids. The green bowl is really pretty for serving Super Easy Pasta Salad. In fact, mine was such a hit over the holidays that I bought extras to use as gifts this coming year. Shhhhh! Don’t tell my mom. I have one put back for her.


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