This Pasta Salad is one that can be served as a side dish or main dish. It’s loaded with fresh and canned vegetables and dressed in a zesty Italian dressing that’s found in any of my local grocery stores.
I make this Pasta Salad throughout the year for family picnics and as a make ahead lunch option. I will often marinate chicken in the Italian dressing that I have leftover, bake it, and then slice it and serve it on top of the Pasta Salad, but it’s great without it and perfect for the vegetarians in your life.
To cheese or not to cheese. I love adding cubes of Munster, Mild Cheddar, or even Mozzarella Cheese, but the dressing will cause the texture of the cheese to change so I only add cheese if I take it to a large event. Otherwise, if you still want cheese in the Pasta Salad, I would suggest sprinkling it into the individual portions as they’re served.
For years, I bought Kraft House Italian Dressing, but lately I’ve also used their Zesty Italian Dressing. I’ve even tried the Great Value brand that Walmart sells with zero complaints from the family. If you have a favorite store bought or homemade Italian dressing then use your top choice.
I don’t overdress the Pasta Salad, but I do pour dressing over each layer and stir it well and I definitely add it to the warm pasta immediately so that it will absorb as much flavor as possible. I refrigerate my Pasta Salad in the morning for the day of. Before serving I always stir it well and taste the Pasta Salad to see if it needs more dressing.
Speaking of the pasta, I normally use the tri-color spiral noodles, but as you can see by the photos, the grocery store didn’t have any in stock. The great thing about this dish is that any pasta that you have will work, even spaghetti!! Just make sure to follow the directions on the box or bag for cooking the pasta (in salted water), and don’t over cook it so the pasta doesn’t become mushy from sitting in the dressing.
I hope that you’ll try this recipe today and leave a comment below. Also, for updates, follow @lifeabovethecafe on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
You will need a large bowl to mix everything up in. If you don’t have a large bowl, drain the pasta and return it to your cooking pot and mix everything up in it.
Boil the pasta in salted water, according to the directions on the package. Don’t over cook the pasta. As the pasta cooks, wash and prep the vegetables.
Drain the canned items and dice the baby corn up into bite size pieces.
If the cherry tomatoes are large, slice them in half. Peel and cut the seeds out of the cucumber and dice it up into bite size pieces. Dice the bell pepper and purple onion into bite size pieces. Slice the baby carrots into thin rounds (I use medium size baby carrots not the tiny skinny ones. If you can only find them use more and cut the pieces on a diagonal to make the slices larger).
When the pasta is finished cooking drain it and then pour it into the large mixing bowl. Immediately pour 1/4 bottle of the dressing over the pasta and stir it well.
Add all of the diced vegetables, drained and chopped canned items, and another 1/4 of a bottle of the Italian dressing and stir it again. I normally use about 3/4 of a bottle of dressing depending on how it tastes. Refrigerate the pasta salad for a few hours until it has chilled and serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley if desired.
Note – before serving, stir the pasta salad well and taste it to see if more dressing is needed.