Italian Pasta Salad

This Italian Pasta Salad is one of my favorite cold pasta salad recipes that I make a lot during the warm summer months.  

This Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious mix of pasta, quinoa and chickpeas and an assortment of vegetables all tossed in a delicious Italian vinaigrette

This vegetarian pasta salad is a healthy twist on a favorite classic that your whole family will love. It’s a delicious mix of pasta, quinoa and chickpeas (rather than straight up pasta) for a healthier take, along with an assortment of vegetables all tossed in a delicious Italian vinaigrette. 

This Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious mix of pasta, quinoa and chickpeas and an assortment of vegetables all tossed in a delicious Italian vinaigrette

PASTA SALAD INGREDIENTS

Rather than using 100% pasta noodles for this healthy pasta salad, we use a mix of  2 cups pasta noodles, 2 cups chickpeas and 1 cup quinoa to cut down on the carbs and add plant protein and fiber.  It’s easy to make this a vegan pasta salad by simply omitting the parmesan cheese.

  • Fusilli Pasta (but penne works too)
  • Quinoa
  • Canned chickpeas
  • Red onion
  • Cucumber
  • Red pepper
  • Pepperoncini
  • Kalamata olives
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Parmesan cheese (optional – omit if you want to make this a vegan pasta salad)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Homemade Italian salad dressing

VARIATIONS

  • Add chopped broccoli
  • Toss in some green bell pepper
  • Sprinkle in grated carrot
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes
  • Use mozzarella or provolone instead of parmesan cheese

HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN PASTA SALAD

This chickpea pasta salad comes together in about 20 minutes start-to-finish.

  • Cook noodles and quinoa:  Cook the noodles in a pot of salted water and cook the quinoa in a separate pot of water.
  • Make pasta salad dressing:  Mix the ingredients for this simple Italian dressing (or if you’re short on time, use your favorite bottled Italian dressing)
  • Chop ingredients:  Rinse and chop vegetables.  I like them in bite size pieces, giving my fork something to sink into.  Also cut the tough ends of the artichoke hearts off.
  • Toss ingredients:  After the noodles and quinoa have cooled, toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • Chill:  Chill for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
  • Serve:  Drizzle the salad with just enough of homemade Italian dressing to lightly coat the ingredients.  Add in the parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves and toss again.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

TIPS

  • Soak the sliced red onion in a glass of water (drain and pat dry) before adding to the salad.  It will mellow the flavor of the onion.
  • Noodles in pasta salad can become a little dry and flavorless after awhile.  Toss salad and add more dressing if needed before serving.

This Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious mix of pasta, quinoa and chickpeas and an assortment of vegetables all tossed in a delicious Italian vinaigrette

PASTA SALAD DRESSING RECIPE

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup good extra-virgin olive oil

HOW TO MAKE PASTA SALAD DRESSING

  1. Combine the ingredients in a mason jar and twist the lid tight.  Shake vigorously to blend ingredients.
  2. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

This Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious mix of pasta, quinoa and chickpeas and an assortment of vegetables all tossed in a delicious Italian vinaigrette

WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT THIS ITALIAN PASTA SALAD

  • It replaces about 2/3 of the amount of pasta (found in classic pasta salads) with chickpeas and quinoa (making it a lower carb salad for folks watching their carb intake) while still keeping noodle-lovers content.
  • It’s loaded with healthy ingredients.
  • It’s lower in carbs than classic pasta salads.
  • It travels well.
  • Perfect for dining al fresco during warm summer months when no one feels like cooking.
  • It has an incredible combination of flavors!

This Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious mix of pasta, quinoa and chickpeas and an assortment of vegetables all tossed in a delicious Italian vinaigrette

SUMMER SALAD RECIPES

Here are some tasty summer salad recipes that are also great for potlucks, barbecues and dining al fresco.

 

This Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious mix of pasta, quinoa and chickpeas and an assortment of vegetables all tossed in a delicious Italian vinaigrette
Yield: 6 Servings

Italian Pasta Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

This Italian Pasta Salad is a delicious mix of pasta, quinoa and chickpeas and an assortment of vegetables all tossed in a delicious Italian vinaigrette.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups dried fusilli noodles
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 12-14 heirloom or regular cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 12 - 14 kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup pepperoncini, silced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
  • 2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pasta salad dressing

For Pasta Salad Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup good extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse under cold water for just a minute.
  2. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 1 cup water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 15 - 18 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let set in the pan for about 5 minutes then fluff with a fork or spoon.
  5. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool.
  6. Place the noodles in a saucepan with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  7. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5-7 minutes or until al dente.
  8. Drain noodles and transfer to the refrigerator to cool.
  9. Place all of the prepared ingredients and the cooled quinoa and cooked noodles in a large bowl.
  10. Add the vinaigrette and lightly toss to incorporate.
  11. Add grated parmesan cheese and basil ribbons and toss again.
  12. Chill before serving. Serve with extra vinaigrette if desired.
  13. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

FOR THE PASTA SALAD DRESSING

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a mason jar. With the lid tightly sealed, shake until the ingredients are well blended together.

Notes

VARIATIONS

  • Add chopped broccoli
  • Toss in some green bell pepper
  • Sprinkle in grated carrot
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes
  • Use mozzarella or provolone instead of parmesan cheese


TIPS

  • Soak the sliced red onion in a glass of water (drain and pat dry) before adding to the salad.  It will mellow the flavor of the onion.
  • Noodles in pasta salad can become a little dry and flavorless after awhile.  Toss salad and add more dressing if needed before serving.

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