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Simple Italian Pasta Salad with No Meat

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Pasta salads are something I look forward to every summer. I love using up all the healthy fresh vegetables from our garden and eating them hot and cold.

This Italian Pasta Salad with no meat is completely vegetarian but includes some parmesan and cheddar cheese to take it to the next level.

This recipe is insanely simple to make for any weeknight dinner. It can even be stored in the kid’s lunch boxes and served cold at school!

Summer Pasta Salad in a blue bowl

How to Make the Italian Pasta Salad with No Meat

Cook the rotini noodles (spiral pasta) according to the directions on the box and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Dice the sweet peppers into 1-inch pieces and halve each grape tomato.

I like to use sweeter peppers, such as red, yellow, or orange sweet peppers. You can even use a Sweet Italian Pepper if you would like.

Next, chop the cheddar cheese block into ½ inch cubes.

I love using cheddar cheese in this recipe. It complements the Italian salad dressing and who doesn’t love a little cheese?

After the pasta is drained, put it back into the pot. Add the peppers, tomatoes, Italian dressing, and parmesan cheese and mix to combine.

Add the cheddar cheese blocks right before serving if serving hot or add to the mixture right before placing in the fridge.

Enjoy the Italian Pasta Salad immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Title and Shown: Vegetarian Italian Pasta Salad: an easy summer favorite (in a blue bowl)

Can You Make Pasta Salad Ahead of Time?

This is the one thing I love about veggie pasta salad. You can make it the day before and it will still taste just as good as the day you made it. It actually tastes even better when you serve it cold!

Once you make the pasta salad, it’s important to refrigerate it immediately to prevent bacteria from growing on the pasta, keeping it healthy and safe to eat.

Pasta salad will stay fresh refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Closeup of Italian Pasta Salad with tomatoes, peppers, and cheese shown

Should You Rinse Pasta When Making Pasta Salad?

I will give you a short answer. No, you should never rinse your pasta. It will remove a lot of the starchiness and flavor from the pasta.

It will also cause the Italian salad dressing to separate from the pasta salad.

You only need to drain the pasta in a colander then add it back to the pot.

How Do You Cool Pasta Down for Pasta Salad?

I’m sure you’re wondering how you cool pasta salad down to serve cold at BBQs and parties. The answer is easy.

Make the pasta salad ahead of time and place in the refrigerator to cool promptly. It can take anywhere to 2-3 hours for the pasta to cool down enough to serve cold.

Plan this accordingly for any summer events you may have.

Fork in Italian Pasta Salad with with pepper in back

What Goes Well with Cold Pasta Salad?

This Italian Pasta Salad contains no meat and goes perfectly at a summer barbecue. That means it’s great being served alongside corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, air fryer hot dogs, air fryer hamburgers, veggie burgers, or even Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Legs.

What is the Best Store-Bought Italian Dressing for Pasta Salad?

All Italian dressing is delicious with pasta salad, but my absolute favorite is the Parmesan Italian dressing store brand from Wegmans.

If you don’t have a Wegmans local to you (they’re only in the North East), look for a Parmesan Italian variety or Zesty Italian. Both go great with the flavors of the cheddar cheese and grape tomatoes.

If using a zesty Italian dressing in this recipe, you can add a little extra Parmesan cheese to adjust the flavor.


Other Recipes You’ll Love:

Air Fryer Zucchini Chips

Easy Make-Ahead Garlic Bread

Cheesy Taco Lasagna

Yield: 8 servings

Italian Pasta Salad with No Meat

Summer Pasta Salad in a blue bowl

A simple Italian Pasta Salad with fresh garden vegetables and cheese. It's perfect for potlucks and barbecues!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces rotini pasta
  • 8 ounces block cheddar cheese
  • 2 sweet peppers
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or 1 Tablespoon fresh basil and oregano)
  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook and drain pasta per directions on the box.
  2. While pasta is cooking, dice the sweet peppers into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Cut each grape tomato in half then chop the block cheddar into 1/2 inch cubes.
  4. Return pasta to pot and add in peppers, grape tomatoes, Italian dressing, and Parmesan cheese and mix to combine.
  5. Add in cheddar cheese chunks and combine them again.
  6. Serve warm immediately or refrigerate promptly and serve cold up to 5 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 285Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 463mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 11g

This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

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