Simple Pasta Salad

This simple pasta salad recipe is a true classic without the mayonnaise. It comes together quickly in less than 30 minutes and is a sure hit at a summer BBQ or picnic.

I truly love a good, simple pasta salad in the summer – I’ll even eat pasta salad for breakfast! The combinations are endless, but the most obvious (and for good reason!) are garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs, crumbly cheeses, and many other summer fresh ingredients.

This easy, simple pasta salad recipe is perfect for making ahead and storing in your refrigerator overnight. You don’t want to be fussing around in the kitchen when you have places to go and people to see! Take it to a BBQ, picnic, or even a summer brunch, and you’ll be a hit!

A vegan food journal with fresh, delicious recipes.

Hello, I'm Denise.

I love to eat, garden, travel, and do yin yoga! I make plant-based recipes and photograph them from my 1920’s, remodeled apartment in Rhode Island. I've always loved fresh basil. Put some fresh basil leaves on a piece of cardboard, drizzle on a little olive oil and sea salt, and I'd be tempted to eat it! ❤️

Pasta Salad Ingredients

This recipe is easy and fresh –along with the pasta, I add juicy cherry tomatoes, vegan feta cheese, handfuls of arugula, chickpeas for protein, pine nuts & little cucumbers for crunch, and fresh parsley and basil.

I’ve made many pasta salads over the years and most recently I’m not using mayonnaise. Instead, I’ve been using a flavorful dressing I make at home. The dressing is easy to make: it’s a zesty mix of olive oil, lemon, garlic, Dijon, herbs & seasonings  – I like to use Italian seasoning. You can also use Herbes de Provence, which is wonderful.

How to Make Pasta Salad

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

    • 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.
    • Chop your cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, mince the parsley, and crumble the feta.
    • Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
    • And toss everything together in a big bowl! Season to taste and dig in.

My Best Pasta Salad Tips

    • Cook your pasta a little longer than normal. It should be just 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 box instructions is usually just about right for 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 veggies.
    • Save some herbs for garnish! This pasta salad recipe is a great one to make ahead, but if you do, save some of the herbs and pine nuts for garnish. The pine nuts will keep their crunchy texture and the herbs will be extra fresh, pretty, and flavorful.
    • 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 Variations

This pasta salad is perfect as-is, but you can change things up with a variety of herbs, seasonings, and other things you can find in your pantry. Here are my suggestions:

    • Make it vegan! Use vegan feta cheese! It doesn’t crumble, but vegan feta cheese is delicious.  OR, 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.
    • 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.
    • Go Greek. To make this recipe more of a Greek pasta salad, add kalamata or black olives and a half cup of thinly sliced red onion.
    • Roast your chickpeas for extra crunch.

Take this simple and lovely pasta salad to a BBQ, or picnic, or bring it along as a brunch contribution. Your friends and family will gobble it up and ask for more! I promise.

If you try my easy, simple pasta salad leave a comment below and let me know how it turnout out!

Simple Pasta Salad

Simple Pasta Salad

Denise Keniston - Basil Lover
This Simple Pasta Salad is perfect for a picnic or barbecue. It's filled with fresh veggies, herbs and a zingy vinaigrette dressing.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Servings 4


  • 3 cups Uncooked fusilli pasta
  • 2 cups Halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups Cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cups Arugula or kale
  • 1 cup Pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup Vegan feta cheese
  • 1 cup Basil leaves, torn
  • 1/2 cup Minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup Chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup Toasted pine nuts


  • 1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp Braggs, 24 Herbs and Spices
  • 1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp Sea Salt


  • Instructions
    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, Braggs 24 Herbs and Spices, 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.
Keyword pasta salad, pasta salad recipe
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