Easy Cold Pasta Salad Recipe

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.

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!

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.

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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!

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!

If you prefer to make your own, my homemade Italian dressing is delicious and this simple Red Wine Vinaigrette is great, too.

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!

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 Easy Cold Pasta Salad Recipe to your “Main Dishes” Pinterest board!

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

 

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!
5 from 4 votes
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Easy Cold Pasta Salad Recipe

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!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 244 kcal

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Place in a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Stir carefully before serving. Add more salad dressing as needed to keep the pasta from drying out.

Recipe Notes

  1. 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. 

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!

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5 comments

  1. Delicious pasta.

  2. Really nice pasta salad especially on a day like today when it’s super hot. I followed it exactly as you suggested. It worked out perfectly since I had all the ingredients on hand but I can see this could be made with a Mediterranean twist with olives, feta, or bucatini, etc. I always add fresh herbs if I have them, so parsley and/or basil. Thanks for sharing. 

  3. This was a good recipe, however, I feel like the broccoli should be cooked beforehand.

    • A quick blanch or something, huh? Good idea. I think you’re right! I’ve never done that, but it would definitely get rid of the bitterness of the broccoli.

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