A fresh twist on a classic, this Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing is full of fresh summer veggies and tossed with a tangy, quick vinaigrette. Perfect for summer barbecues, potlucks, or a simple supper at home.
Every summer we travel to the Northeast to visit my husband’s family. We spend time playing with the cousins, jumping in the lake, and grilling outside. There are many classic dishes I can always count on during our visits, and macaroni salad is definitely one of them.
Occasionally my husband gets nostalgic for the comfort of a good old fashioned pasta salad, so I set out to create my own version using garden fresh veggies and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.
For this Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing I chose to use elbow macaroni in keeping with tradition, but any pasta shape will work.
Feel free to use whole wheat or any gluten-free variety. For the veggies I started with the classic chopped red onion and celery, and then added carrots, bell pepper, tomatoes, and a handful of fresh parsley.
I wanted to avoid the bottled Italian dressing so instead whisked together a quick homemade version. The dressing is so simple to make and tastes like the bottled version only much fresher.
Feel free to play around with the veggies and herbs in this salad, adding what you like and what you have. If you’re not a fan of tomatoes (I know you’re out there!), leave them out or substitute roasted red peppers.
This Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing would also make a lovely lunch with the addition of some chopped hard boiled egg or a can of rinsed chickpeas.
RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS
1 | Hold some cooked pasta aside before tossing with the veggies and/or the dressing. Then, serve the pasta tossed with just the dressing and some raw chopped veggies on the side or serve the plain pasta tossed with the veggies and no dressing.
2 | Serve all the parts separately on the plate (my 3-year-old’s preferred option): plain pasta, chopped carrots, chopped celery, and chopped bell pepper with optional dressing on the side for dipping.
THIS RECIPE IS . . .
Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Mayo-Free, Nut-Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan
Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing
For the Dressing:
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad:
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 6 medium carrots diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 large yellow bell pepper diced (about 1 cup)
- 4-5 stalks celery diced 6 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
- ¼ small red onion diced (about ¼ cup)
- ⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 pound cooked and cooled elbow pasta or pasta shape of choice (whole wheat or gluten-free)
In a small bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid place the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and vinegar. Whisk or shake until well combined. Add the olive oil and whisk or shake again until well combined. The dressing will naturally settle as it sits, so give it a good whisk or shake before serving.
In a large bowl combine the cooked pasta, tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper, celery, red onion, and parsley. Pour over the dressing and stir to combine. Let sit at least 30 minutes for the dressing to absorb and the flavors to combine. Serve at room temperature.
Serve all the parts separately on the plate (my 3-year-old's preferred option): plain pasta, chopped carrots, chopped celery, and chopped bell pepper with optional dressing on the side for dipping.