Incredible Veggie Pasta Salad

LAST UPDATED: May 13, 2020 | PUBLISHED: May 08, 2020 | By: Julie Blanner

This veggie pasta salad recipe is bursting with fresh, vibrant flavors! Overflowing with nutrients thanks to an array of fresh sauteed veggies, it’s a vegetarian pasta salad side dish you can feel good about! 

A white bowl filled with a fresh vegetarian pasta salad.

Pasta salad is the ultimate side dish for parties, picnics and summertime barbeques. In fact, it’s something I like to make lately so that we have it on hand throughout the week.

It’s a great side dish for so many dinner entrees, and cold pasta salad is perfect all on its own for lunch! 

I’ve shared a few easy pasta salad recipes over the years, and readers always seem to love the results! If you’re a fan, be sure to check out my Mexican pasta salad, seafood pasta salad, basil lemon pasta salad, Italian pasta salad, spaghetti salad, and this classic bowtie pasta salad

A close up shot of veggie pasta salad.

Yes, there’s a little something for everyone around here! However, this vegetarian pasta salad is a fresh new take… one that’s flexible, healthy, and oh-so-delicious.

Why You’ll Love this Fresh Veggie Pasta Salad

First of all, sauteeing the veggies helps to bring all the flavors together for a surprisingly harmonious combination of textures. Cooking those crunchy fresh veggies down a little brings out their sweetness and creates the perfect balance.

It’s the perfect make-ahead side dish because it is even better on the second day. Plus, it covers so many dietary restrictions for your guests. I love serving at least one healthy side dish for parties, and this pasta salad is a great option because it’s fast, easy, and filling.

A white bowl filled with a fresh vegetarian pasta salad.

A Side Dish that’s BETTER the Next Day? Yes Please! 

This vegetarian pasta salad is exploding with flavor! And the best part? It’s even better the second day. 

That’s right! While it’s delicious as soon as you make it, there’s just something about serving a cold pasta salad after it’s had a little more time to rest.

This vegetarian pasta salad is even better after it’s had time to sit and harmonize (if you can wait that long, that is)! Once it’s refrigerated, the ingredients come together in a really beautiful way. 

A white bowl filled with a fresh vegetarian pasta salad topped with Parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian Pasta Salad Ingredients

PASTA AND VEGGIES

  • Olive Oil – I generally reach for an Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but whatever you have on hand will work just fine.
  • Zucchini – Rough chunks of zucchini chopped.
  • Red Bell Pepper – roughly chopped in whatever size you’d like. Remember that as they saute and soften, they will shrink down a bit in size.
  • Orange Bell Pepper – Chopped.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – Halved into bite sized pieces.
  • Red Onion – Roughly chopped by hand, or you can run through the food processor if you prefer. 
  • Parmesan – Fresh grated is best, but use what you have on hand.
A steaming pot of veggie pasta salad.

PASTA SALAD DRESSING

  • Olive Oil – You can substitute canola oil in a pinch. It’s the base for this dressing.
  • White Wine Vinegar – Adds a light tang. Try Balsamic vinegar or a red wine vinegar in the dressing for a slightly different flavor profile. 
  • Lemon Juice – Gives this dish refreshing, bright flavor.
  • Dried Basil – Have fun with it, use your favorite herbs.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – Adds a little heat.
  • Salt and Pepper – To taste.
A white bowl filled with a fresh vegetarian pasta salad.

How to Make this Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, al dente please.A silver stockpot filled with bowtie pasta as it cooks.
  2. Meanwhile add oil and zucchini to a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté 3 minutes.A silver stockpot, wooden spoon sauteeing squash for a pasta salad recipe.
  3. Add peppers, tomatoes and onions. Sauté 4 minutes.fresh veggies piled into a silver stockpot to go into a veggie pasta salad. fresh veggies piled into a silver stockpot to go into a veggie pasta salad. fresh veggies piled into a silver stockpot to go into a veggie pasta salad.fresh veggies piled into a silver stockpot to go into a veggie pasta salad.
  4. Strain pasta and rinse in cold water to shock the pasta. This prevents them from getting soggy.A white strainer filled with bowtie pasta, water from the sink cooling it down for a vegetarian pasta salad.
  5. Return to the serving bowl. Pour sautéed vegetables over pasta.Cooked bowtie pasta in a white bowl preparing for a veggie pasta salad.
  6. In a jar, combine dressing ingredients and shake until combined. Pour over pasta salad.A glass jar filled with dressing for a vegetarian pasta salad recipe.
  7. Toss.
A white bowl filled with veggie pasta salad.

Variations

There are so many fun ways to mix this up and make it your own. Have extra veggies in the fridge that you need to use? Throw them in there! 

  • Add Garlic – when you’re sautéing the vegetables for another boost of fresh flavor.
  • Mix it Up – Use your favorite or seasonal veggies.
  • Make it Vegan – Eliminate the cheese.

Optional Veggies

  • green onion
  • carrots 
  • celery
  • spinach
  • arugula
  • squash
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower

Alternative Pastas

  • orzo
  • rice
  • tri color spirals
  • Try a gluten-free pasta (chick pea, etc)
A white bowl filled with a fresh vegetarian pasta salad.

Tips

  • Don’t Overcook Noodles – Prepare them al dente. This will prevent your pasta salad from becoming mushy and it will toss easier.
  • Shock Pasta – After straining noodles, rinse them with cold water to shock them.
  • Cool Pasta – Allow pasta to cool before adding the pasta salad dressing and ingredients.
  • Marinate – The best pasta salads are made in advance to allow the dressing to soak into your pasta and veggies. This makes it so flavorful!
  • Make it Vegan – Simply eliminate the cheese for a Vegan pasta salad!
A white bowl filled with a fresh vegetarian pasta salad topped with Parmesan cheese.

How to Store Pasta Salad

Refrigerate – Wrap your serving bowl tightly with plastic wrap, or choose a storage bowl with a tight fitting lid. Most pasta salads can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. I really enjoy making this one ahead of time because it’s truly even better the second day

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More Summer Side Dishes

A white bowl filled with a fresh vegetarian pasta salad topped with Parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian Pasta Salad

Julie Blanner
This veggie pasta salad recipe is bursting with fresh, vibrant flavors from delicious sauteed vegetables! Overflowing with nutrients thanks to an array of fresh veggies, it’s a vegetarian pasta salad side dish you can feel good about! 
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 340 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1 orange pepper chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan grated

Pasta Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions
 

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta.
  • Meanwhile add oil and zucchini to a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté 3 minutes.
  • Add peppers, tomatoes and onions. Sauté 4 minutes.
  • Strain pasta and rinse in cold water.
  • Return to serving bowl. Pour sautéed vegetables over pasta.
  • In a jar, combine dressing ingredients and shake until combined. Pour over pasta salad.
  • Toss.

Notes

Substitutions

  • Olive Oil – EVOO is preferred, but olive oil and canola oil also work.
  • Parmesan – Asiago, pecorino romano, feta and goat cheese all work well.
  • White Wine Vinegar – You can also use balsamic vinegar or a red wine vinegar.
  • Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed or 100% lemon juice purchased in the produce section of your grocer. 
  • Dried Basil – Oregano, thyme and rosemary also work well.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – Eliminate or substitute with black pepper.

Variations

  • Add Garlic – when you’re sautéing the vegetables for another boost of fresh flavor.
  • Mix it Up – Use your favorite or seasonal veggies.
  • Make it Vegan – Eliminate the cheese.

Optional Veggies

  • green onion
  • carrots 
  • celery
  • squash
  • broccoli

Alternative Pastas

  • orzo
  • rice
  • tri color spirals

Tips

  • Don’t Overcook Noodles – Prepare them al dente. This will prevent your pasta salad from becoming mushy and it will toss easier.
  • Shock Pasta – After straining noodles, rinse them with cold water to shock them.
  • Cool Pasta – Allow pasta to cool before adding the pasta salad dressing and ingredients.
  • Marinate – The best pasta salads are made in advance to allow the dressing to soak into your pasta and veggies. This makes it so flavorful!
  • Make it Vegan – Simply eliminate the cheese for a Vegan pasta salad!

How to Store

Refrigerate – Wrap your serving bowl tightly with plastic wrap, or choose a storage bowl with a tight fitting lid. Most pasta salads can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. I really enjoy making this one ahead of time because it’s truly even better the second day

Nutrition

Calories:340kcalCarbohydrates:36gProtein:9gFat:18gSaturated Fat:3gCholesterol:4mgSodium:110mgPotassium:284mgFiber:3gSugar:4gVitamin A:1139IUVitamin C:49mgCalcium:93mgIron:1mg
Keywords Vegetarian Pasta Salad, Veggie Pasta Salad
Did you Make This Recipe?Mention @JulieBlanner
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