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 Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 452kcal

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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.

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

Calories: 452kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 421mg | Potassium: 368mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 71% | Vitamin C: 76% | Calcium: 47% | Iron: 16%

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