Pasta salad is a popular dish that’s versatile and great for picnics, potlucks, or light summer meals. Here’s a basic recipe for a cold pasta salad, but keep in mind that there are countless variations, and you can customize it to your liking.

Classic Pasta Salad Recipe


  1. 12 oz (340 grams) pasta (penne, fusilli, rotini, or farfalle work well)
  2. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  3. 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  4. 1/4 cup diced red onion
  5. 1/2 cup diced bell pepper (any color)
  6. 1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional)
  7. 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or diced mozzarella
  8. 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
  9. 1/2 cup Italian dressing or homemade vinaigrette (recipe below)
  10. Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Vinaigrette:

  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  3. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  4. 1 garlic clove, minced
  5. Salt and pepper, to taste
  6. Instructions:
    1. Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Once cooked, drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down.
    2. Prepare the Vinaigrette (if making homemade): In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste.
    3. Combine: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, black olives (if using), cheese, and fresh herbs.
    4. Dress: Pour the Italian dressing or homemade vinaigrette over the pasta mixture. Toss until everything is well coated.
    5. Season: Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
    6. Refrigerate: Allow the pasta salad to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together.
    7. Serve: Give it one last mix before serving, and garnish with additional fresh herbs if desired.


    • You can add other ingredients like grilled chicken, canned tuna, hard-boiled eggs, or even sliced salami for added protein.
    • Mix and match vegetables based on your preference or what’s in season. Broccoli florets, snap peas, or even diced zucchini can be great additions.
    • For a creamy version, mix in some mayo or Greek yogurt with the vinaigrette.

    Enjoy your meal!


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