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Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

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This Italian pasta salad is perfect for your next potluck or barbecue. It features a zesty Italian vinaigrette, fusilli or rotini pasta, and a colorful rainbow of fresh vegetables. Everyone will love this pasta salad with Italian dressing, and it’s so easy to make. So what are you waiting for? Make this summer salad today!

rotini vegetable pasta salad on a wood bowl with hand using a fork and another bowl of pasta salad on the background

Perfect Salad for Summer

This cold pasta salad with Italian dressing and cucumbers is perfect for summertime because it is light and refreshing. The cold pasta has a lot of unique flavors, perfect for the hot weather.

The rainbow of fresh vegetables adds a beautiful array of colors with crunch and flavor to the rotini pasta salad. The zesty Italian dressing made from balsamic vinaigrette gives this pasta salad a tasty kick.

The best part is that this dish is so easy to make. You just need to cook the pasta, chop up some vegetables, whisk together the Italian dressing, and mix everything before serving. That’s it!

You’ll love this delicious rainbow pasta salad!

rainbow rotini pasta salad and silverware in a wood bowl with another bowl of salad with cucumber, and cherry tomatoes vegetables placed on a white cloth

Ingredients for Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Dijon mustard
  • Garlic
  • Dried Italian seasoning
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil

For the Pasta Salad

  • Fusilli aka rotini pasta
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen corn
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mixed-color bell pepper
  • Persian cucumbers
  • Olives
  • Fresh basil leaves
ingredients for zesty Italian pasta salad which contains grean peas, fusili pasta, corn, mixed color bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, balsamic vinegar, olives, salt, pepper, diced garlic, olive oil all placed in separate bowls

Ingredient Notes

  • The Dijon mustard helps it emulsify and gives it a nice tang.
  • This dressing recipe uses garlic and Italian seasoning. You could use different seasonings if you like. Feel free to make it your own!
  • The balsamic vinegar gives the salad great sweetness and acidity.
  • Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil in this recipe. Olive oil brings the vinaigrette dressing ingredients together.
  • Although this recipe uses fusilli or rotini pasta, you can use bow tie pasta or other short pasta shapes.
  • I love this mix of my favorite vegetables (peas, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, and olives). But you can swap other vegetables. Try small broccoli florets, sliced snap peas, celery, and diced carrots.

Equipment Used for Rainbow Pasta Salad

zesty Italian pasta salad and silverwares on a wood bowl with another bowl of salad and salt, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes placed on a white cloth

Making the Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette

Mix the dijon mustard, garlic, and Italian seasoning in a large bowl. Then add the balsamic vinegar to the bowl and whisk them together.

Slowly pour the olive oil in while whisking the other ingredients. This helps to emulsify the dressing

Season the balsamic dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Then set it aside.

For the Rainbow Pasta Salad

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the water.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Add the peas and corn to the pot one minute before the pasta is done cooking.

cooking the peas, corn and fusilli pasta in a pot

Drain the pasta, peas, and corn and run them under cool water. This will stop them from being hot to the touch.

Add the pasta, peas, and corn to the bowl. Then add the dressing and mix everything.

Next, add the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumbers, and olives. Then toss everything together.

all chopped ingredients put altogether in bowl

If needed, season your food with additional salt and pepper. You can also add some fresh basil for decoration.

You can enjoy this pasta salad now, or wait until it is cold because it will taste great either way.

Make ahead directions: To prep as a make-ahead pasta salad, cook the pasta and chop the vegetables. Rinse the pasta before storing. Then prepare the dressing.

Store everything separately in the fridge until you are ready. Then, just before serving, mix everything together and add the Italian balsamic dressing.

Storage: If you have leftover balsamic vinaigrette pasta salad, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

all ingredients mixed in a bowl

Recipe Variations

  • Bow tie pasta salad with Italian dressing: Use a bow tie pasta instead of fusilli or rotini in this recipe.
  • Banza pasta salad: Banza pasta is my favorite gluten-free option for this balsamic vinaigrette pasta salad recipe.
Zesty Italian Pasta Salad and silverwares on a wood bowl

Love pasta recipes?

Then you’ll love our other pasta recipes, like pasta with meat sauce, tortellini Caprese salad (another perfect summer salad), tortellini Caprese skewers (the ultimate appetizer), rigatoni Pomodoro (a rich pasta dinner), or classic lasagna.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between Rotini vs Fusilli?

The main difference between rotini and fusilli is the shape. Rotini is a spiral-shaped pasta, while fusilli is a corkscrew-shaped pasta. They both have lots of surface area for the dressing to cling to, making them perfect for pasta salad with zesty Italian dressing.

Is balsamic vinaigrette the same as Italian dressing?

No, they are not the same. But they are similar. Balsamic vinaigrette is made with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and other seasonings like garlic and Italian seasoning. Italian dressing is usually made with white vinegar, oil, herbs, and spices.

Should you put the dressing on rainbow pasta salad the night before?

I would not recommend adding the dressing ahead of time. The pasta will absorb the dressing, and it might get soggy.

If you want to prep it as a make-ahead balsamic salad, cook the pasta and chop the vegetables. Then prepare the dressing. Store everything separately in the fridge until you are ready. Then, just before serving, mix everything together and add the Italian balsamic dressing.

How can you prevent pasta from sticking together when making pasta salad?

If you want to keep the pasta from sticking together, rinse it with cold water after cooking. This will stop the cooking process and help remove any excess starch from the pasta. Adding a little oil to the pasta water can help to keep it from sticking.

What does this vegetable rotini pasta salad go with?

This veggie rotini pasta salad is a great side dish for any type of grilled meat. It is also good on its own as a light lunch or dinner.

a wooden bowl of pasta salad and salt, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes placed on a white cloth

Get our full zesty Italian Pasta Salad here

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad and silverwares on a wood bowl
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

This zesty Italian pasta salad is the perfect picnic or barbecue side dish! Fusilli or rotini pasta, tons of fresh vegetables, and a light balsamic vinaigrette make up the most delicious and colorful pasta salad.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Salad, Lunch
Cuisine Italian, American
Keyword pasta dinner, vegetarian, pasta salad, pasta recipes, Pasta, Make Ahead, Salads
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 342kcal

Equipment

  • large serving bowl (for the salad)
  • whisk (for the salad dressing)
  • large saucepan or stockpot (for pasta)

Ingredients

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon grated garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • cup olive oil

For the Pasta Salad

  • 8 ounces fusilli or rotini pasta (bow tie pasta or any short pasta will work)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup mixed-color diced bell pepper
  • 1 cup Persian cucumbers sliced into half moons
  • ½ cup sliced olives
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Instructions

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dijon mustard, grated garlic, and Italian seasoning.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar and whisk to combine.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking constantly.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the Pasta Salad

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Cook the pasta to al dente, according to the package directions. One minute before draining the pasta, add the peas and corn to the pot with the pasta.
  • Drain the pasta, peas, and corn and run them under cool water– just until they are no longer hot to the touch.
  • Add the pasta, peas, and corn to the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss to combine.
  • Next add the remaining vegetables– tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumbers, and olives. Toss to combine.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
  • Enjoy immediately or chill until ready to serve. This pasta salad is delicious at room temperature or cold.
  • Storage: Store any leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Notes

Make ahead directions: To prep as a make-ahead pasta salad, cook the pasta, and chop the vegetables. Rinse the pasta before storing. Then prepare the dressing.
Store everything separately in the fridge until you are ready. Then, just before serving mix everything together and add the Italian balsamic dressing.
More notes: 
  • Dijon mustard helps emulsify the vinaigrette and adds a delicious tang.
  • This recipe uses vinaigrette with garlic and Italian seasoning, but you could use anything you like, such as herbs de Provence, red pepper flakes, etc. 
  • Balsamic vinegar adds a great sweetness and acidity to the vinaigrette.
  • Olive oil helps bring the vinaigrette together. I recommend a good quality extra virgin olive oil in this recipe.
  • Use fusilli, rotini pasta, bow tie pasta, or any short pasta shape in this recipe.
  • I love this mix of my favorite vegetables (peas, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, and olives). But you can swap other vegetables. Try small broccoli florets, sliced snap peas, celery, and diced carrots.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 220mg | Potassium: 494mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1415IU | Vitamin C: 62mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg

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