Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing | Real Food Whole Life

Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

Image of Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

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


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Image of Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing


  • Yield:
    6 sides 1x


Description

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.



Scale

Ingredients

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)

45 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)


Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Notes

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.

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.

 

10 comments to " Garden Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing "

  • Eeek! I cannot make this pasta salad fast enough! I love pasta salad, but some reason I never make it. Which is dumb, because yours looks fantastic. Cannot wait to make this beautiful, colorful bowl of pasta!

  • Stacey

    This is a keeper! I made some substitutions to use what I already had. I used broccoli instead of celery, green instead of yellow pepper, and basil instead of parley. I also omitted the salt(dietary restriction), added pepper, and doubled the yummy dressing!

    • Robyn Downs

      Stacey, I love your substitutions! I think I’ll use broccoli next time instead of celery, and doubling the dressing is always a good idea. Glad you enjoyed!

  • Kathie

    so simple, but so good! This is a great way to use up the CSA box. I had leftover broccoli, onion, tomato, carrots and celery and I get a new box tomorrow – so I cleared the vegetable drawer, and now have lunches for a few days. Thanks!

    • Robyn Downs

      Kathie, sometimes the most simple recipes are the best, aren’t they? I love the idea of using this as a base recipe to use up whatever is left in the CSA boxes, and it’s always fantastic to have a few lunches for the week. Glad you enjoyed. 🙂

  • April

    Can I make this the night before?

    • Robyn Downs

      April, make the salad, hold the dressing aside, cover tightly, and refrigerate. When ready to serve bring to room temperature and toss with the dressing.

  • Alisa

    Wish you would include the recipe nutritional information with your recipes, like the calories or fat grams, etc. Would be extremely helpful!

    • Robyn Downs

      Hi Alisa, I actually don’t count calories or fat grams. Instead I simply focus on eating real, whole foods. If tracking calories and fat grams is helpful to you, please feel free to enter the ingredients for your favorite recipes into the many online calculators out there.

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