veggie pasta salad with balsamic dressing

An easy veggie pasta salad recipe flavored with a delicious balsamic dressing that uses minimum oil! 20 minutes and a few simple ingredients are all you need to enjoy this great summer salad. Minimum effort, mega taste!

closeup view of veggie pasta salad with balsamic vinaigrette

This vegetarian pasta salad recipe is made with whole-grain pasta, fresh feta cheese crumbs, sweet juicy cherry tomatoes, “instant-pickled” onions, olives, walnuts, herbs and a saucy balsamic vinaigrette.

The dressing is where the magic happens. The balsamic vinaigrette is so full of flavor with very few ingredients that you won’t believe you’re eating a healthy vegetarian salad with whole-grains, veggies, olives and nuts. More importantly, this salad is not drenched in oil like most pasta salads. And you won’t need the sugar that most dressings use.

what ingredients can I use for the veggie pasta salad

Carrots, bell peppers (capsicum), cucumber, any salad vegetables lying in your fridge can be used. No walnuts? use almonds. No parsley? Use any fresh herb. No garlic? use garlic powder.

See? You’ll love this pasta salad for being so versatile and forgiving.

A note about Onions: Slice the red onions and submerge in a bowl of water with 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for a minimum of 10 minutes to soften and take the bite out of the raw onions. Tastes even better if you can soak for 30 minutes.

what pasta can I use for the veggie pasta salad recipe?

I’ve used whole grain rotini here (with a handful of tricolor rotini for a pop of color). The sauce clings on to the crevices that hold the sauce well and don’t dry out easily.

what do you need for a balsamic vinaigrette recipe?

(full printable recipe at the end of the post)

balsamic vinegar – for the characteristic flavor boost

extra virgin olive oil – same quantity as the vinegar

dried Italian mixed herbs – can be substituted with oregano, basil and optional chili flakes

garlic – can be substituted with garlic powder

salt and pepper – Himalayan pink salt.

veggie pasta salad with balsamic vinaigrette

tips to make the best veggie pasta salad

  • Using Himalayan pink salt gives an edge to the balsamic vinaigrette in terms of taste.
  • Soaking the red onion slices with vinegar and salt gives a kind of instant pickled effect.
  • There’s already a lot of flavors so you won’t really need sugar in this balsamic dressing recipe.
  • Whole-grain pasta is so satisfying that you can have this pasta salad as a vegetarian main meal. Think mid-week meatless meals or work-from-home quick lunch. So HEALTHY, so TASTY!
veggie pasta salad with balsamic vinaigrette served in bowls
closeup view of veggie pasta salad with balsamic vinaigrette

vegetarian pasta salad with balsamic dressing

Easy veggie pasta salad with whole grain pasta, juicy tomatoes, fresh feta cheese, "instant-pickled" onions and an easy 1-minute balsamic vinaigrette. Minimum effort, mega taste!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, brunch, dinner, LUNCH, Main Course, Party food, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 206 kcal

Ingredients
  

balsamic dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 teaspoon mixed Italian dried herbs (or 1/2 tsp oregano+1/2 tsp basil)
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 garlic clove minced)
  • black pepper to taste

veggie pasta salad

  • 3/4 cup rotini pasta whole-grain (see note 3)
  • 1/4 cup tricolor rotini pasta (see note 2)
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced and softened (see note 1)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar to soften the onions (any vinegar is fine)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, red and yellow mixed halved
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled into big chunks
  • 1/2 cup parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup olives sliced
  • 10 walnuts

Instructions
 

pasta

  • Boil 1 litre (4 cups) of water with salt. Add the whole grain pasta first since it takes 4 to 5 minutes more to cook than the regular ones. After 5 minutes, add the tricolor pasta. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Prepare the rest of the ingredients while the pasta is cooking.

balsamic dressing

  • Shake together all ingredients in a jar.

veggie pasta salad

  • Slice the onion thinly and submerge in a bowl of water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon vinegar. This softens and takes the bite out of raw onions. Drain and squeeze the water out after 10 minutes.
  • Once pasta is cooked, scoop out 2 tablespoons of pasta water. Strain the cooked pasta and run tap water over the colander to stop it from cooking further and to avoid it from sticking together.
  • Toss all the ingredients together along with the reserved pasta water. The pasta salad can be served immediately or chilled (tastes even better when made ahead)
  • If you're planning to chill the salad, reserve about 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing. Chill the pasta salad in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or more, and toss with the remaining dressing before serving.

Notes

  1. Soaking the onions in vinegar and salt gives a kind of “pickled” effect and can be done for any salad that uses raw onions. It tastes even better if soaked longer, for about 30 minutes.
  2. You can use 1 cup of whole-grain pasta or a mix of whole-grain and regular pasta. I’ve mixed tricolor pasta for variation.
  3. Though any short pasta can be used, rotini is best suited for this pasta salad. The dressing and bits of cheese cling onto the curves, making every bit of it flavorful.
  4. Himalayan pink salt adds additional flavor to the balsamic vinaigrette, making this a unique pasta salad.
  5. You’ll need only 1/4 cup of olive oil for this salad recipe for 4 servings and is definitely a low-calorie option without any compromise on taste.
 
veggie pasta salad with balsamic dressing
Keyword easy balsamic vinaigrette, easy recipe for balsamic dressing, healthy Italian salad, vegetarian pasta salad, veggie pasta salad, wholegrain pasta salad

If this pasta salad is a winner, you may also like the pasta salad with mint yogurt dressing.

Have you tried the creamy pasta with chickpeas and spinach?

I would love to hear how this pasta salad turned out for you. Please share your comments below:

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