This pasta salad recipe can be as simple as you like, with ingredients you may already have on hand, and serves as a delicious side dish for any meal. I’ve made this pasta salad for 35 years and only had rave reviews. Serve chilled or room temperature; travels well.
1# box of farfalle pasta (fusilli or penne work well, too)
3/4 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced Roma tomatoes (any will do)
1/2 cup diced white or red onion
3/4 cup diced yellow, orange, or red pepper
12–16 ounces dressing of your choice (see above or below)
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup pitted olives (optional)
4 oz. cheese (optional) (I use feta, medium cheddar, or diced pepper jack)
1/2 to 1 cup beans, drained and washed (optional) (I use chickpeas most often)
1/2–3/4 cup diced broccoli (optional)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (you can use white wine or apple cider vinegar, but the amount may need adjusted)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
dash of red chili flakes (optional)
2–3 Tbsp. McCormick Salad Seasoning (see above), (optional)
Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain in a colander (reserve 3-4 Tbsp cooking water) and immediately rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a mixing bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, add all dressing ingredients to a small bowl, minus the extra virgin olive oil.
Slowly pour the oil into the dressing bowl, whisking to emulsify. Stir in the reserved cooking water. Set aside.
Stir the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and any other optional ingredients of your choice into the mixing bowl with pasta.
Reserving about 1/4 cup of the dressing mix, stir the remaining salad dressing over the pasta salad. Toss to coat.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Freshen up with remaining dressing the next day, or as needed.
Pasta salad dries out quickly, so keeping the reserved dressing until you are ready to serve is important. It will also go a longer way if you allow the pasta to come to room temperature before adding. Pasta salad is even better the second day, after the flavors have had time to marry.