Easy Cold Pasta Salad
This easy Cold Pasta Salad has broccoli, bell peppers, zesty Italian dressing and Parmesan cheese. It's simple and always a favorite!
Servings 12 servings (1 cup each)
For the Italian dressing:
- 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 broccoli florets chopped and blanched if desired (see note 1)
- 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1/2 red onion peeled and thinly sliced (see note 2)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To make the dressing, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper).
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
In a large bowl, add the cooled pasta, broccoli, bell peppers, red onion, and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss to combine.
- Broccoli: If you'd like to blanch the broccoli (optional), 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.
- Red onion: If you onion seems angry when you slice it (makes you cry), marinate it in the salad dressing for 5 minutes, or up to 30 minutes, before assembling the rest of the salad.
- Yield: This recipe makes at least 12 (1-cup) servings.
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Make ahead: The Italian salad dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator. The pasta can be cooked, drained, rinsed, and cooled up to 1 day in advance. The vegetables can be prepped the day before and stored separately in the refrigerator.
- More mix-ins: Get creative with diced cucumbers, cubes of cheese, sliced salami, a can of olives, or your favorite fresh herbs.
- Make the vinaigrette your own: Substitute balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar or add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Serving: 1cup | Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 199mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 499IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 1mg