Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

When the weather gets hot, pasta salad can be a great addition to any barbecue, picnic or cold meal spread. This classic vegetarian and vegan Italian pasta salad recipe are packed with plenty of vegetables, so it is both nutritious and delicious. Using a pre-made Italian salad dressing, this quick and easy side Italian pasta salad recipe is a great dish when you're looking for a recipe for a warm weather side dish or main course. Serve as a side dish at your next picnic or on a hot day when standing over a hot stove is not an option.

Looking for more ideas for what to bring to a vegetarian or vegan potluck or picnic? Most people will bring a traditional dish like a vegetarian pasta salad or a vegetarian potato salad and there will likely be plenty of bean salads too. Just about any vegan dessert will always be welcome, and, the last vegan potluck we went to, we brought vegan spring rolls and they were gone in a flash (in hindsight, we should have made a double batch!). 

Recipe adapted from The Compassionate Cook Cookbook by E. Christensen, reprinted with permission.


  • 1 1/2 cups pasta (shell, bow-tie or corkscrew pasta)
  • 2 cups broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 cup cauliflower (chopped)
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 3/4 cup black olives (sliced)
  • 1 tomato (chopped)
  • 1 avocado (chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The Spruce 
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

    Cooking bowtie pasta.
     The Spruce
  3. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well.

    Bowtie pasta.
     The Spruce
  4. If you don't like raw vegetables in your pasta salad, you can very lightly steam the broccoli and the cauliflower first.

    Steamed vegetables.
     The Spruce
  5. In a large salad bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and onion.

    Veggies and pasta.
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  6. Toss with the dressing, then cover and chill for 4 hours.

    Mixing Italian pasta salad.
     The Spruce
  7. Before serving, toss the salad with the black olives, chopped tomato, and avocado.

    Italian pasta salad.
     The Spruce
  8. Serve and enjoy!


  • If you'd like to steam the broccoli and cauliflower before adding them to the pasta salad, start by filling a pot with a few inches of water and placing a steamer basket over the top of the water.
  • The water should not touch the bottom of the steamer basket, or you will wind up boiling the broccoli and cauliflower instead of steaming them.
  • Simmer the water over medium-high heat, then add the vegetables. and cover, steaming for 2 or 3 minutes, until barely tender.
  • If you are vegan or serving this dish to vegans, be sure to read the ingredients list on the salad dressing that you use as some bottled Italian dressings contain cheese and therefore would not appropriate to serve to those guests.

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