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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


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



  • 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.


  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.
Keyword easy balsamic vinaigrette, easy recipe for balsamic dressing, healthy Italian salad, vegetarian pasta salad, veggie pasta salad, wholegrain pasta salad