This post has been sponsored by Wish-Bone®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Meet your new favorite Italian Pasta Salad recipe. Seriously, this is the recipe that my family asks me to make for all of our gatherings. Loaded with colorful veggies and tri-color pasta, this side dish is easy to make ahead. My kids can’t stop eating it, either. The best part is how easy it is to make with a few basic tips. And our not-so-secret ingredient. 🙂
Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
There are so many reasons why this is one of my personal favorite recipes of all time. Yes, of all time. First, it is a side dish that goes with just about any meal. And it is great for cookouts, potlucks, and parties.
I also love the fact that you can mix and match the vegetables by season or preference. My favorite combo is crunchy cauliflower, fresh cucumber, sliced green olives, sweet bell peppers, and tangy tomatoes.
But what really steals the show is the tangy Italian dressing. I use
Wish-Bone® House Italian Dressing in this pasta salad recipe. The balance of flavors and spices in the dressing soaks into the pasta and coats the vegetables. Every bite is yum. Wish-bone adds real flavor with real ingredients like onion, pepper, garlic, herbs and Parmesan cheese .
Plus, there are no artificial flavors or colors, and no high-fructose corn syrup.
Shop New Wish-Bone Dressing flavors now at Kroger stores. You can find a selection of Wish-bone Dressings in the salad dressing aisle of your local Kroger.
Look for all of the new flavors in the convenient squeeze bottle:
- Wish-Bone® House Italian Dressing 15 fl. oz. Squeeze Bottle
- Wish-Bone® Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing 15 fl. oz. Bottle
- Wish-Bone® Deluxe French Dressing 15 fl. oz. Squeeze Bottle
- Wish-Bone® Creamy Caesar Dressing 15 fl. oz. Bottle
Ingredients Needed to make our Italian Pasta Salad:
- Tri Color spiral pasta
- Wish-Bone House Italian Dressing
- Green + orange bell peppers
- Purple onion
- Green olives
- Feta cheese
- Dried Italian herbs
You can pick any type of pasta you’d like, but I love using the tri color varieites. They add more color and flavor to the recipe.
For the tomatoes, I recommend using a small cherry or grape tomato. (But the recipe is great with any type.) You can also swap out the green olives for black olives if you prefer.
How to Make Italian Pasta Salad:
- First, cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. If the package does not specify al dente, cook for 1 minute less than recommended time.
- Next, drain the pasta into a collander and rinse immediately with COLD water to stop the cooking process. Add a cup of ice cubes and toss the pasta salad. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together half a bottle of Wish-Bone House Italian Dressing (15 oz bottle), honey, garlic, and Italian herbs.
- Then add all of the prepared vegetables according to the recipe at the bottom of this post. Stir to combine well.
- Pick any unmelted ice cubes out of the pasta. Next, add the pasta to the bowl and stir and toss to combine the pasta, dressing, and vegetables.
- Cover and refrigerate. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in the Feta cheese and remaining Italian dressing.
TIP: Rinsing the pasta and adding ice cubes while it drains helps stop the cooking process. You want the pasta to be slightly firm so it will absorb the flavors of the Italian dressing.
I like to add a bit of honey, garlic, and herbs to the dressing to really pop the Italian flavors because there are so many vegetables in the recipe. You won’t taste the sweetness of the honey. It just helps the dressing cling to the pasta.
Q&A: “Why do you add half of the dressing at the beginning and the other half at the end, instead of all at once?”
By adding half of the dressing at the beginning, the pasta has a chance to absorb all of the dressing. You can serve it just like that if you like. But between you and me, no one likes bland pasta salad. Add the other half of the bottle about half an hour before serving, stir, and really amp up the zesty Italian flavor.
Everything you need for this recipe can be found at your local Kroger. I always like to browse the produce section for the freshest selection of vegetables to add to our Italian Pasta Salad.
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More Tips + Ideas:
- Turn this Zesty Italian Pasta Salad into a main dish by adding slices of pepperoni and salami.
- Remember, don’t overcook the pasta or the end result will be mushy.
- If you don’t like olives but still want a savory-sour pop of flavor, use mild banana pepper rings instead.
- Use small, crunchy cucumbers if you can. If not, scoop out the seeds of a large cucumber. This helps keep them crunchy.
- Try to cut the vegetables into approximately the same size. This makes the pasta salad easier to eat.
- Not a fan of cauliflower? No worries. Swap it out with fresh broccoli.
- This pasta salad recipe is also great with whole grain pasta.
- This recipe serves about 12 people. It can be easily doubled (or halved) based on how many people you need to feed.
- Make this pasta salad the night before for the best flavor.
Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
A zesty pasta salad loaded with fresh, colorful vegetables. This side dish is perfect for all of your gatherings, picnics and potlucks.
- 16 ounces tri color pasta
- 15 ounces Wish-Bone® House Italian Dressing divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 1 teaspoon dry Italian herbs
- 1.5 cups cauliflower chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 1/2 green bell pepper seeded, thinly sliced, chopped
- 1/2 orange bell pepper seeded, thinly sliced, chopped
- 1 carrot peeled, shredded
- 1 small cucumber chopped
- 1/2 cup green olives sliced
- 1/2 cup purple onion thinly sliced, chopped
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbled
First, cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. If the package does not specify al dente, cook for 1 minute less than recommended time.
Next, drain the pasta into a collander and rinse immediately with COLD water to stop the cooking process. Add a cup of ice cubes and toss the pasta salad. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together half a bottle of Wish-Bone® House Italian Dressing (15 oz bottle), honey, garlic, and Italian herbs.
Then add all of the prepared vegetables chopped as noted in the ingredient list. Stir to combine well.
Pick any unmelted ice cubes out of the pasta. Next, add the pasta to the bowl and stir and toss to combine the pasta, dressing, and vegetables.
Cover and refrigerate. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in the Feta cheese and remaining Italian dressing.
I have made this with so many varieties of vegetables, and use whatever I have on hand. It is great with fresh, crunchy shreds of cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, peas and more. You can’t really go wrong here.