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!
ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
If you’re look for an easy recipe for pasta salad then you found it!
I have found that the best & easiest to make 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.
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 🙂
HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
Cook up a box of tricolor rotini pasta noodles according to the package directions. 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.
MY TIPS FOR MAKING EASY ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
- 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.
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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