An easy Cold Pasta Salad recipe with broccoli, peppers, zesty Italian dressing and Parmesan cheese. Make it ahead; the flavor gets even better as it sits!
This easy Cold Pasta Salad recipe is a great side dish all year round. Children and adults alike gobble it down and it travels well. And, it’s an ideal make-ahead dish because the flavor only improves as it chills.
How do you make a simple pasta salad?
I like to select just a few veggies, not everything in the drawer, that taste good together and look colorful. I like broccoli, bell peppers, and red onion.
I recommend blanching the broccoli for a few minutes and then cooling in an ice bath to set the color and remove some of the bitterness. But, if you’re in a rush, you can skip that step.
How do you make a dressing for pasta salad?
My friends and family always use bottled salad dressing for this salad. Anything zesty Italian tastes great!
Since this Pasta Salad has no mayonnaise, you don’t have to worry (as much) about spoilage while you enjoy a beautiful day. The variety of vegetables also add color, crunch, and nutrition.
How do you make a cold spaghetti salad?
If you want to try another cold pasta salad with spaghetti noodles, my California Pasta Salad is a tried and true favorite!
Easy Cold Pasta Salad Recipe
- 12 ounces Rotini or other small pasta
- 2 cups bite-sized broccoli florets blanched if desired (see notes)
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 red onion peeled and cut into strips
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces Homemade Italian dressing or store bought
- Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta and 1 minute pasta al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
- Meanwhile, combine broccoli florets, bell peppers, and onion in a large bowl. Stir in cold pasta. Add Parmesan cheese and salad dressing and toss until uniformly combined.
- Place in a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
- Stir carefully before serving. Add more salad dressing as needed to keep the pasta from drying out.
- To blanch broccoli, bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add broccoli and cook until just tender and bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking.