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Easy cold pasta salad with a serving spoon and fork in a wooden bowl.

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!
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 275kcal


For the Italian salad dressing (or sub 8 oz store-bought):

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove minced fresh garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta salad:

  • 16 ounces rotini or other small pasta
  • 2 cups bite-sized broccoli florets blanched if desired (see notes)
  • 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


To make the Italian salad dressing:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard, basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Allow flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the pasta salad.

To make the pasta salad:

  • Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
  • Meanwhile, combine broccoli florets, bell peppers, and red onion in a large bowl. Stir in cooled pasta. Add salad dressing to taste and Parmesan cheese and toss until uniformly combined. Store covered in the refrigerator until serving time.



To blanch broccoli:
  1. Bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil.
  2. Add broccoli and cook until just tender and bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Drain and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking. 


Calories: 275kcal