Easy Pasta Salad Recipe – Love and Lemons

This fresh, easy pasta salad recipe comes together in under 30 minutes! Tossed in a tangy vinaigrette and filled with veggies, it’s a cookout hit.

Best Pasta Salad in a serving dish

Today’s recipe is a picnic-perfect pasta salad! Every cookout needs a great pasta salad, and this is the one that I make all summer long. It comes together in no time, it’s full of fresh ingredients, and it packs a flavorful punch.

I took extra care to make sure that this recipe is not just easy, but also easy to make in advance… because I totally get that you don’t want to be futzing with your pasta salad when you could be spending time outside with your friends.

Note: If you do decide to make this salad in advance, toss on some whole basil leaves before serving to make it instantly prettier.

Easy pasta salad recipe ingredients

Pasta Salad Ingredients

This classic pasta salad recipe is easy and fresh. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Fusilli pasta – Or your pasta of choice! Short pasta shapes are best here. I like rotini, penne, and farfalle in addition to fusilli.
  • Cherry tomatoes – I love their sweet flavor and juicy texture in this salad.
  • Cucumbers – For crunch! I like to use Persian cucumbers or English cucumber here. Both have very thin skins, so there’s no need to peel them.
  • Chickpeas – They add plant-based protein.
  • Arugula – It adds peppery flavor and extra green.
  • Feta cheese – For salty, tangy flavor.
  • Pine nuts – Like the cucumbers, they add satisfying crunch.
  • And fresh herbs – Parsley, basil, AND mint pack this salad with fresh flavor!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Pasta Salad Dressing

A simple pasta salad dressing takes this recipe over the top. It’s a zesty mix of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. I finish it with a pinch of herbes de Provence. Italian seasoning works nicely too!

I love this quick homemade dressing, but it’s not your only option here. Try tossing this salad with Italian dressing or a red wine vinegar Greek salad dressing instead!

Easy pasta salad recipe ingredients

How to Make Pasta Salad

Making this recipe is a breeze! Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain it, toss it with some olive oil, and set it aside to cool.
  2. Chop your cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, mince the parsley, and crumble the feta.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  4. And toss everything together in a big bowl! Season to taste and dig in.

How to make pasta salad

My Best Pasta Salad Tips

  • Cook your pasta a little longer than normal. It should be a tad past al dente (but not mushy) so that the pasta stays soft when it cools. I find that the higher time range listed on the package instructions is usually just about right for cold pasta salad.
  • Let your pasta cool completely before tossing it with the other ingredients. If it’s still warm, the hot pasta will start to cook and wilt the vegetables. No one’s a fan of warm cucumber, so make sure you’re tossing cold pasta into this dish.
  • Taste and adjust. Like most salad recipes, this one is super flexible, so be sure to taste and adjust it to your liking before serving. Add more lemon if you prefer a tangier salad, toss in more greens if you’re all about the veggies, and always, always salt to taste.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Recipe Variations

This pasta salad is fantastic as-is, but feel free to change it up to match your tastes or the ingredients in your pantry. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make it vegan. Use olives or sun dried tomatoes in place of the feta.
  • Make it gluten-free. Use gluten-free pasta or quinoa in place of traditional noodles.
  • Go Greek. To make this recipe more of a Greek pasta salad, add 1/2 cup each of kalamata or black olives, diced bell pepper, and thinly sliced red onion.
  • Try a Caprese combo. Use halved mini mozzarella balls in place of the feta.
  • Try another herb. Fresh oregano would be lovely in place of the mint in this salad, and thyme would also be a great addition.
  • Swap out the arugula for spinach, or leave it out altogether if you prefer a higher pasta: veggie ratio.
  • Or roast your chickpeas for extra crunch.

How to Store and Make Ahead

This pasta salad recipe is a great side dish to make ahead for picnics, potlucks, and cookouts. I recommend making it up to a day ahead of a gathering. Leftovers keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

If you make this salad ahead, wait to add half the herbs and pine nuts until right before serving. The herbs will retain their vibrant color and the pine nuts will keep their crunch. Toss them into the salad and season to taste with more salt and lemon juice before digging in.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

More Favorite Summer Salads

If you love this pasta salad recipe, try one of these delicious summer salads next:

Easy Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves 6

You’ll love this easy pasta salad recipe! It’s a great one to make ahead – if you’re bringing it to a picnic, prep it up to a day in advance.

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly past al dente.
  • Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, herbes de Provence, red pepper flakes, and salt. (Note: the dressing will have a strong flavor, it’ll mellow once it coats all of the pasta salad ingredients).
  • Drain the pasta, toss it with a little olive oil (so that it doesn’t stick together) and let it cool to room temp. Transfer to a large bowl with the tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula, cucumbers, feta cheese, basil, parsley, mint, and pine nuts. Pour the dressing and toss to coat. Season to taste with more lemon, salt, pepper, and/or a drizzle of olive oil, if desired, and serve.


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