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The Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

The Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe is the most flavorful pasta salad! The secret ingredient is dry Italian dressing mix sprinkled over the pasta and vegetables!

Course Dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken salad, pasta, pasta salad, vegetables
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
cool and marinate time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta any shape
  • 1/3 cup Bermuda (red) onion chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper seeded and sliced
  • 2 carrots thinly sliced
  • 2 small zucchini thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cups broccoli flowerlettes
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms sliced
  • 1 large can pitted olives, black or green
  • 1 12-14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained well and quartered may use marinated or packed in water
  • 1 .07 oz package dry Good Seasons Italian dressing mix OR recipe attached for homemade dry mix
  • 1 16 oz. Bernstein's Cheese and Garlic Italian dressing* see recipe notes or other good quality Italian bottled dressing I have also used "Ken's Simply Vinaigrette"
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

To make dry Italian seasoning:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons dry Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dehydrated onion flakes optional
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.

  2. Wash and cut vegetables, place in a large bowl. Add cooked, cooled pasta and sprinkle with dry seasoning mix (packaged or homemade). If using homemade dry mix, use 3-4 tablespoons.

  3. Add a generous amount of fresh ground pepper. Pour bottled dressing over all, toss and refrigerate.

  4. Just before serving, grate fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese over the salad.

Recipe Notes

  • I use about 1/2 of the well shaken bottle of dressing to start. Let it sit (preferably) for at least 2 hours. Then add more bottled dressing as needed, tossing before serving. The longer the dressing sits on the pasta before serving, the more it will be absorbed into the pasta. This is great for flavor, but needs to be adjusted to make sure the pasta salad does not taste dry before serving!
  • For make-ahead, if waiting more than 3 hours to serve, add the mushrooms and grated cheese just before serving.
  • For tender, bright green broccoli, place the washed broccoli on a microwave safe plate. You may chop the broccoli before or after cooking. Add 2-3 tablespoons water to the plate. Cover with paper towel and cook the broccoli for about 2 minutes or just until the broccoli turns bright green. Carefully remove from microwave. Drain hot water from plate and rinse the broccoli briefly with cold water to stop cooking process. Drain well (I like to give it a good shake or two) and add to the salad. The same may be done with cauliflower.