Easy Italian pasta salad will be the star of all your summer picnics and BBQ’s! Takes just minutes to make and can be eaten right away or refrigerated. Tender rotini pasta, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, black olives, and feta cheese covered in Italian dressing. So quick, easy, and delicious!
Pasta salads and no bake desserts are always so popular this time of year. Which is a really good thing because they happen to be two of my favorite things! I love any and all pasta salads. There is so much variety when it comes to pasta salad which is why I love them so much.
With all the experimenting I have been doing lately, I have found that the best pasta salads use bottled salad dressing. It sounds crazy and I know some may totally disagree because it’s not “homemade” but I am telling you that it really does make pasta salad so easy to make and so flavorful. Just look at this ranch pasta salad. Same idea as today’s but with bottled ranch dressing and shredded parmesan cheese.
Or this Caesar pesto pasta salad also uses bottled salad dressing too. I only post the best of the best recipe, so if all (well, most of them…) my pasta salads on the blog use bottled salad dressing and those tricolor rotini noodles, then you know it has to be good. I love using tricolor rotini pasta noodles vs regular pasta noodles because I think they have much more flavor, which is really important in a pasta salad.
The other secret to a really good pasta salad is to salt your pasta water. So many people forget this and I think it’s the reason why the pasta salad turns out bland. I use at least 2 teaspoons salt when I make this salad. It sounds like a lot, but remember that the pasta itself is not covered in 2 teaspoons of salt. The water is and the pasta just cooks in the water 🙂
Italian pasta salad is so easy to make!
Cook up a box of tricolor rotini pasta noodles according to the package directions. Be sure to SALT your PASTA WATER. Salting the water also helps it come to a boil faster. While the pasta is cooking, chop up a cucumber, red onion, and cut some grape tomatoes in half.
When the pasta is done transfer it to a colander (that’s sitting in the sink) and let it drain. Turn the faucet all the way to cold and let it run over the pasta for several minutes so the pasta can cool down. You don’t want to add hot pasta to the bowl!
It’s easy from here. Add all your ingredients into the mixing bowl and stir together. This easy Italian pasta salad is good served right away or let it refrigerate for a few hours before serving. Just be sure to give it a good stir and you may need to add a tablespoon or two of Italian dressing to moisten it back up again.
Tips for making this easy Italian pasta salad recipe
- Be sure and salt the pasta water before adding the dry pasta
- Use an Italian dressing that you LOVE. I really like the Olive Garden Italian dressing so that is the one that I buy. There are so many options. Zesty Italian dressing, creamy Italian dressing, parmesan Italian dressing….. you get the idea 🙂 Pick one you love or one that sounds yummy!
- It’s best to seed the cucumbers for this pasta salad. Peel the cucumber and then cut it in half vertically (so you end up with two thinner, longer pieces). Take a metal dinner spoon and scoop out the seeds and flesh. Then cut and dice the cucumber.
- Use grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. Either one will work great.
- Eat this pasta salad right away or let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. It’s best not to make pasta salad the day before, because pasta salad tends to dry out as it sits in the fridge for a long time. When you are ready to serve, or are eating leftovers, give the salad a good stir and add a tablespoon or two of the dressing to moisten it all back up again.
- The recipe calls for 1/2 cup – 1 cup Italian dressing. I use around 3/4 cup. It really is up to preference. Start with 1/2 cup and work from there.
I am thinking that this would be THE BEST side dish to take to a Memorial Day BBQ/picnic or for the 4th of July! It will definitely be making an appearance at our gathering. Thanks for stopping by friends and have a happy day.
Easy Italian pasta salad will be the star of all your summer picnics and BBQ's! Takes just minutes to make and can be eaten right away or refrigerated. Tender rotini pasta, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, black olives, and feta cheese covered in Italian dressing. So quick, easy, and delicious!
- 1 box (12 oz) tricolor rotini pasta
- 1 cucumber, chopped (peeled and seeded)
- 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomates
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 can (2.25 oz) sliced black olives, drained
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/2 - 1 cup Italian salad dressing
Cook pasta according to box instructions. Remember to salt your pasta water with 1-2 teaspoons of salt. When pasta is done, drain it and run cold water over it so the noodles can cool.
Combine the cooked and cooled pasta, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, and red onion. Pour Italian dressing over it and stir together.
Can be eaten right away or refrigerated for a few hours before serving.
You need about 1 cup chopped cucumber. If your cucumber is smaller then you may need 2 of them. 1 large cucumber is equivalent to 1 cup chopped cucumber.
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