Generally, people make pasta salad using store-bought Italian vinaigrette or some mayo-based dressing. I like to elevate mine with a fresh, homemade lemon-herb vinaigrette that is not only way tastier, but it’s a perfect companion to any leafy herbs you might have on hand or in your window garden.

The vinaigrette keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days, and it’s delicious on a ton of different things: grilled veggies, sliced tomatoes, grilled chicken or fish, or green salads. Whenever I find I have extra herbs lying around from other recipes, I’ll whip a quick batch of this vinaigrette to use them up … and I’m always glad I did.

The pasta salad no-recipe recipe below is meat-free, but you can totally add some grilled chicken or cooked shrimp to it. However, this dish is pretty substantial on its own, so if you’ve been thinking about introducing Meatless Mondays to your brood of carnivores, this is a good recipe to start with. Up the fiber by using whole wheat or whole grain pasta, and toss in some rinsed canned beans to make a complete protein.

The ratio I use for a balanced mix of flavors and textures is: 2 cups cooked pasta, 2 cups veggies, 1 cup beans, and 1 cup cheese.


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Recipe-Free: Pasta Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 452 kcal
Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
  • 1 clove garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup leafy herbs (I usually use a combination of basil, parsley, mint, cilantro or dill)
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Pasta Salad
  • 2 cups cooked whote wheat pasta
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped roasted peppers
  • 1 cup halved mozzarella balls
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas
  1. To make lemon-herb vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Toss together pasta salad ingredients and dress with 1/3 cup vinaigrette. Reserve remaining vinaigrette for another use.
Recipe Notes

This lemon herb vinaigrette recipe yields enough to double this salad if you’re feeding a crowd or bringing it to a picnic.

The pasta salad recipe is a classic Italian-inspired flavor combo, but don’t stop there. Check out these other ideas for inspiration:

  • Mexican: black beans, corn, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cilantro
  • Greek:  kalamata olives, feta cheese, roasted peppers, cannellini beans, tomatoes, dill
  • Asian:  broccoli, carrots, snow peas, celery, edamame, mint

Have fun playing around with different ingredients and let me know how it goes!

Nutrition Facts
Recipe-Free: Pasta Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 452 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 26%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 421mg 18%
Potassium 368mg 11%
Total Carbohydrates 50g 17%
Dietary Fiber 9g 36%
Sugars 7g
Protein 27g 54%
Vitamin A 71%
Vitamin C 76%
Calcium 47%
Iron 16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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