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Classic Pasta Salad

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Classic Pasta Salad is perfect for a summer BBQ or picnic.  This classic salad mixes your favorite pasta, crisp vegetables, cheese and a homemade Italian dressing. This salad recipe is a great base to start with and can be modified to your guests tastes! 

Classic Pasta Salad makes the perfect BBQ side dish. This is simple and packed with flavor.

Classic Pasta Salad

We just returned from a vacation in Traverse City, Michigan which was relaxing and beautiful. If you want to see the beauty that is Michigan this time of year check out my Instagram! We enjoyed a lot of beach and water time, hiking sand dunes {yes, this pregnant girl did climb a sand dune!}, playing on playgrounds, grilling out, having camp fires and watching those breathtaking Michigan sunsets. Nothing can beat some quality family time up north!
Once we got back from vacation I realized that July 4th was upon us! This summer is flying by! Hopefully everyone has been able to get out and enjoy the warm weather. I have already been to a few BBQs and picnics which always make me happy. Today’s Classic Pasta Salad is one of the pasta salads that I like to bring to a big group gathering, especially if I don’t know how adventurous of eaters the crowd will be.

Classic Pasta Salad makes the perfect BBQ side dish. This is simple and packed with flavor.

My Classic Pasta Salad is a pretty basic recipe that I like to use and sometimes will go ahead and modify it depending on the crowd.  This recipe uses your favorite pasta {whole wheat for a healthier salad} along with chopped bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, diced sharp cheddar cheese and a homemade Italian dressing mixed in. Some other ingredients I like to add to this Classic Pasta Salad include other types of cheeses, like mozzarella or feta cheese, additional vegetables, like zucchini, squash and celery and beans, like black beans and chickpeas.

The nice thing with a Classic Pasta Salad is that most people like the ingredients that are in it, making is a popular side dish choice to pair with your burgers, grilled chicken and hotdogs. When it comes to summer {and being 6 months pregnant} I am all about easy. This salad definitely falls into that easy category and just involves boiling your pasta, chopping up the vegetables and cheese and whisking together your homemade Italian dressing {you can of course use your favorite store bought Italian dressing if you prefer}.

Classic Pasta Salad makes the perfect BBQ side dish. This is simple and packed with flavor.

When we were on vacation in Traverse City one of the things I liked to have on hand is salads, like this Classic Pasta Salad. It is one of those salads that can sit in the fridge for a few days without going bad and travels really well. If you want to wait to add the cheese in that will help it last even longer. I like to add beans to my pasta salad when we are traveling to give me that extra boost of protein. Chickpeas are always a great options, especially paired with feta cheese or you can add in some black beans for a more Southwestern style salad.

Another thing I love about summer salads is all of the fresh vegetables from the garden and farmers market that we can use. I also love adding in fresh herbs like basil, parsley and oregano from my garden. You can never have enough fresh herbs to brighten up a dish!

Classic Pasta Salad makes the perfect BBQ side dish. This is simple and packed with flavor.
Speaking of gardens…does anyone else have a garden this year? Ours is doing pretty good so far, but I must admit I find it a little exhausting to take care of when I am nearing the end of my pregnancy. But I always remind myself that I will soon be benefiting from all of those delicious, home grown, flavor packed veggies!

Every year my husband tells me that I plant too many tomato plants and I always argue that it is just the right amount. I think this year I might have gone a bit overboard but I know that between salads, salsas and my kids cherry tomato snacking addiction we will blow through them in no time.

Kitchen helpers for this recipe:

OXO Good Grips 5-Quart Mixing Bowl

OXO Good Grips Little Salad Dressing Shaker, Green

 

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Classic Pasta Salad makes the perfect BBQ side dish. This is simple and packed with flavor.

Classic Pasta Salad

  • Author: Julia Jolliff // A Cedar Spoon
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Salad, Lunch

Description

Classic Pasta Salad is perfect for a summer BBQ or picnic. This classic salad mixes your favorite pasta, crisp vegetables, cheese and a homemade Italian dressing. This salad recipe is a great base to start with and can be modified to your guests tastes!


Scale

Ingredients

For the pasta salad:

  • 1 lb. pasta of your choice, cooked {I liked to use something like a penne pasta}
  • 2 bell peppers, seeds removed, chopped {I like to use a red and orange but use any color}
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 cups broccoli florets, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed {use the cheese of your choice}
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped {optional}

For the dressing:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 14 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions. Once done cooking run under cold water and put in a large mixing bowl. Add the bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cheese and parsley and mix to combine.
  2. In a mason jar or a salad dressing container combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme and salt and pepper and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour half of the dressing on the salad and mix to combine. Taste and add more dressing as needed. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days with an air tight lid.

Notes

I like to add in additional vegetables depending on the crowd including squash, zucchini, red onion, cucumbers and a variety of tomatoes.

You can mix up the cheese you use and try something mild like mozzarella, colby or a feta cheese.

Try adding some protein into the salad with chickpeas or black beans.

If you want to save time feel free to use your favorite store bought Italian dressing.

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Classic Pasta Salad makes the perfect BBQ side dish. This is simple and packed with flavor.

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