California Pasta Salad

This delicious and colorful California Pasta Salad is always a hit at parties! Make it a day ahead if you want; the flavors only get better as it sits!

Ironically, I discovered California Pasta Salad during my recent trip home to Wisconsin (if you’re new here, it’s ironic because I actually live in California).

Among the non-stop backyard bonfires, lake-front picnics, and general summer merriment, one of my friends brought the most amazing Pasta Salad in recent memory.

It’s a giant bowl of chewy noodles, colorful veggies, and the best Italian salad dressing I’ve ever had. And unlike every other version of California Pasta Salad you’ll find on the Internet, my dressing is made from scratch!

This delicious and colorful California Pasta Salad is always a hit at parties! Make it a day ahead if you want; the flavors only get better as it sits!

MY LATEST RECIPES

I envision you all making this pasta salad in late summer when your gardens are overflowing with zucchini (some too big for their own good; you just can’t pick them fast enough!), cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. I hope you do! It’s so good!

While this recipe originated with Taste of Home in 1992, bloggers have been reposting the recipe over the last few years. However, every single version I find still uses store-bought Italian salad dressing.

We can do better!

Red Wine Vinaigrette takes 2 minutes to make, tastes way better, and is the perfect canvas on which to paint the extra flavors that go in to this dressing (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, celery seeds, paprika, and parmesan cheese).

If you’re reading this, Mom, you may substitute a bottle of store-bought Italian (just add those 5 ingredients I listed in the previous sentence).

The flavors just get better as the salad sits! You’ll want to give it at least 2 hours, but feel free to leave it in the fridge overnight.

This delicious and colorful California Pasta Salad is always a hit at parties! Make it a day ahead if you want; the flavors only get better as it sits!

Save this California Pasta Salad to your “Pasta Salads” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

This delicious and colorful California Pasta Salad is always a hit at parties! Make it a day ahead if you want; the flavors only get better as it sits!
5 from 1 vote
Print

California Pasta Salad

This delicious and colorful California Pasta Salad is always a hit at parties! Make it a day ahead if you want; the flavors only get better as it sits!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 272 kcal

Ingredients

For the Salad Dressing:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste

For the Pasta Salad:

  • 1 pound thin spaghetti broken into thirds
  • 2 medium zucchini diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 large hot house cucumber diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper diced
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 (6.5 ounce) can sliced black olives drained

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl with a whisk, or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, oregano, poppy seeds, garlic, paprika, celery seed, and salt. Mix well and allow flavors to blend while preparing the salad.

  2. Bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions, about 9 minutes. Drain well and rinse in cold water.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine zucchini, tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, onion, and black olives. Add rinsed pasta and drizzle with salad dressing to taste (you don't have to use it all). Cover and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Taste of Home.

 


This post contains affiliate links. For more information on my Affiliate and Advertising Policy, please click here.

This delicious and colorful California Pasta Salad is always a hit at parties! Make it a day ahead if you want; the flavors only get better as it sits!

More recipes you'll love...

1 comment

  1. Being from Cali, I definitely need to make this! It looks so good!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

thanks for stopping by!

y’all come back now, ya hear?