This Simple Pasta Salad is colorful and easy to prepare in mere minutes. My 5 Ingredient Pasta Salad is a great make ahead salad and a real crowd pleaser that is always popular with my friends and family.
Simple Pasta Salad
This colorful 5 Ingredients Pasta Salad is very easy to prepare and I like to serve it at cookouts, barbecues and other get together’s with family and friends.
This is one of the Best Cold Pasta Salads in my repertoire and it can be made in minutes. I quickly place a pot of Tri-Color Rotini Pasta on the stove to cook, then get on with dicing the cheese and pepperoni. It’s then a quick case of combining everything together and finishing with some salad dressing.
I can do this in advance of the gathering, cover with plastic wrap and pop into the refrigerator, ready to pull out and serve at meal time.
This Classic Pasta Salad is also very easy to personalize. Change up the pasta shape, cheeses, or meats (Ham and Salami work well) or just add ingredients to this recipe to fit your personal taste.
If you make it often like I do, pick up the Olive Garden Salad Dressing at your local wholesale club, if they have it. Our Sam’s Club regularly carries it and I use it for a variety of recipes, so there is usually 3-4 bottles in my pantry at any given time.
How to make my Simple Pasta Salad recipe:
- Take 1 box of noodles and place them into a large pan of salted, boiling water.
- Note that cooking times will vary, depending on the type of noodles you are using, so check the instructions on the packaging.
- Cook to al-dente then rinse under cold running water to stop the pasta from cooking further.
- Once drained set aside in a large bowl to cool completely.
- Slice the block of cheddar cheese and add it to the pasta in the bowl.
- Slice the pepperoni stick and add that into the pasta bowl.
- Now add the entire bottle of Olive Garden Dressing and mix everything well to combine.
- Cover the bowl and place the pasta salad into the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Recipe ingredients & substitutions:
- NOODLES: I use 1 box of tri-color rotini noodles as they add great color as well as texture to the salad. You can use any variety and shape of noodle, just make sure you check the cooking instructions on the packaging and only cook to al-dente.
- CHEESE: I use a block of cheddar cheese which has a great sharp flavor. You can you any cheese in this salad that you and your family enjoy eating, for example feta cheese would work here too.
- SAUSAGE: I add 1 pepperoni stick to this salad, but you can use any variety of pepperoni or salami. You could also swap the pepperoni for some diced ham or leftover roast chicken.
- SALAD DRESSING: for speed and convenience I use a bottle of Olive Garden Dressing. This Italian salad dressing tastes great and works well with the other ingredients in the salad. You can use any variety of salad dressing that you enjoy.
- GARNISH: I like to finish the salad with some shredded Parmesan cheese which has a strong, sharp flavor that works well with the other ingredients in the dish. You could also grate over some cheddar cheese if you prefer.
Other flavors to add to this Easy Pasta Salad:
I love making it as colorful as possible, which is one of the reasons I use the tri-color rotini noodles in this salad. I then add cheddar cheese and pepperoni for contrasting colors. However, you can make this salad even more colorful by adding in other ingredients. Here are some suggestions:
- various colors of bell peppers
- green or red onion
- sun dried or grape tomatoes
- black or green olives or a mixture of both
Can Pasta Salad be made ahead?
This is a great make ahead salad. Prepare the salad earlier in the day, then cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
Preparing in advance and refrigerating prior to serving not only frees you up as guests arrive, it also allows the dressing to marinate into all of the ingredients, resulting in a more flavorful pasta salad!
What to serve with Pasta Salad?
This tasty and versatile salad can be served on it’s own as a great tasting lunch or light dinner main. Try serving it as a side with your favorite beef, lamb and chicken dishes?
It makes a great BBQ side, I often make a bowl of this salad when I have the grill on as it’s perfect alongside your favorite burgers, hot-dogs or BBQ chicken dishes.
Recipe hints and tips:
- Cut the meats, cheeses, and any added veggies into small evenly sized pieces. This helps to ensure that you get a taste of everything in each bite!
- Don’t overcook your noodles as they will become mushy. The acid in the Italian salad dressing breaks down the starches in the pasta even further, so you want to cook the pasta to al-dente (with bite).
- When straining the cooked noodles run them under cold water as this will stop the cooking process.
- Let the cooked pasta cool completely before adding the other toppings so you don’t melt the cheese or cook any vegetables you might decide to toss in.
Don’t miss these other delicious Pasta Salad Recipes at When Is Dinner:
- Asian Pasta Salad
- Creamy Bacon Parmesan Pasta Salad
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Tomato Cucumber Greek Pasta Salad
- 1 Box Noodles
- 1 Block Cheddar Cheese
- 1 Pepperoni Stick
- 1 Bottle Olive Garden Dressing
- Parmesan Cheese
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 40Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 66mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g
These are a few items I find helpful in my own kitchen when preparing this Simple Pasta Salad Recipe:
Barilla Tri-Color Pasta, Rotini, 12 OunceOlive Garden Signature Italian Salad Dressing, 20 Ounce (Pack of 2)Freshware Bamboo Cutting Board – Wood Chopping Boards for Food Prep, Meat, Vegetables, Fruits, Crackers & Cheese, Set of 3J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL 31161-201 CLASSIC Chef’s Knife, 8 Inch, Black(2 Packs) DOWAN 2-1/2 Quart Porcelain Serving Bowls – Salad/Pasta Bowl Set, White, Stackablecusinine Heart 2-in-1 Silicone Food Tongs, transform from tongs to cooking spoons, salad servers, tongs, fork and spoon, all in 1