Creamy and tangy homemade pasta salad is a versatile recipe that’s ideal for making as a main or side dish with any Italian-inspired meal. Bursting with slightly sweet and wonderfully sour flavors, it includes a mayonnaise vinaigrette and lots of crunchy fresh veggies.

Why this recipe works

Part healthy salad, part comforting pasta, this bright and flavorful pasta salad recipe has everything you love in one dish.

It’s perfect for personalizing with your favorite vegetables and can easily be prepared with several convenient swaps. Fancy olives? Add olives! Don’t you have any fresh herbs? Add dried herbs! Everything you have on hand is ideal for making a simple yet satisfying pasta salad.

Serve chilled or made ahead for an easy meal and enjoy hot or cold. I love having it with some of my other favorite Italian recipes, like eggplant parmesan or with a comforting minestrone soup.

Or eat it straight from the bowl for a snack! There really is no wrong way to enjoy a pasta salad with herbs and vegetables.

How to make a pasta salad

You have to cook the pasta, before you prepare the pasta salad from scratch, right? So let’s get started.

Cooking pasta

1. Bring 4 cups of very salted water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. While cooking pasta, you have to include enough salt to make the water “taste like the ocean” – so don’t skimp!

To the boiling water, add 1 cup (100 grams) of ziti or your favorite small to medium sized pasta.

2. Reduce the heat to medium to medium-high, so that the water continues to boil without bubbling. Stir pasta at intervals while cooking 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions.

3. You should feel free to cook longer if you like a softer texture or if you are going to serve the pasta salad cold.

4. Once cooked, pass the pasta through a colander.

TIP: If you plan on making a cold pasta salad, rinse the pasta in fresh water. It would relax them and they wouldn’t stay. Or pour a little olive oil on it and mix gently.

Prepare vegetables

5. Finely chop 1 medium onion, 1 small green pepper (capsicum), celery and parsley. Peel and grate 1 small to medium carrot.

You will need ⅓ cup of finely chopped onions, ½ cup of grated carrots, ⅓ cup of finely chopped bell pepper, 1 tbsp of minced or finely chopped celery and 1 tbsp of chopped parsley.

Make the mayonnaise vinaigrette

6. This zesty mayonnaise dressing is easy to make! First, in a bowl, take 6 tablespoons of an egg-free or vegan mayonnaise. Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

7. Use a whisk to mix well.

8. Add ground spices – ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder, ½ teaspoon sweet paprika or red chili powder. Season with ¼ to ½ teaspoon of raw sugar and add salt as per your taste. Combine and mix.

TIP: Check the taste of the dressing and feel free to add other seasonings to your liking. You can also add more sugar. The sugar balances the acidic taste of vinegar and mustard.

Assembly

9. Add the cooked pasta.

10. Add the chopped onions, carrots, bell pepper, celery and parsley.

11. Mix and mix well so that the pasta and vegetables are coated with the mayonnaise dressing.

12. Serve immediately hot or let the pasta salad cool before storing it in the refrigerator to cool it down and enjoy it cold.