Italian Pasta Salad

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A few posts ago I wrote about my go-to potato salad, and today I want to share with you my favorite simple pasta salad. Lets face it, everyone needs these two picnic staples in their recipe box, and these are mine.


Inspired by a pasta salad that Ryan grew up eating, this quick and easy side dish is light and colorful with a zesty twist from Italian dressing and Parmesan cheese. Yum!


What’s more, this recipe is incredibly versatile. Are you a veggie lover? Simply add more veggies or swap in your favorites! Looking for a little meat? Slice up some pepperoni or turkey pepperoni and throw it in! Want more cheesy flavor? Add in some fresh mozzarella cubes; it would be delish! Just be sure to adjust the dressing accordingly, if you add a lot more ingredients.


Here’s a question: Does anyone use an actual recipe box anymore? I have a recipe book in which I write my favorite recipes, but not a physical box. Let me know below!

Paula’s Notes: Be sure you use a good quality Italian dressing that you love, as this will play a big role in the flavor quality of your pasta. Enjoy!


Italian Pasta Salad

Serves: 8


  • 8 oz penne (or any other short cut pasta)
  • 1 cup fresh green beans cut into two inch pieces (about the length of the penne)
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes or 1 large ripe tomato, cubed
  • 3-4 stalks green onion – finely sliced
    • You may also use a yellow or red onion for a stronger onion flavor.
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) Italian dressing
    • You may also use a light dressing with equally tasty results. Be sure to see my note above, however.
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
  2. Add pasta to water and cook according to package directions.
  3. Add cut green beans to pasta water at the last two minutes of cook time.
  4. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta and beans are cooled.
  5. In a large bowl combine all ingredients together, gently stirring to coat all pasta and veggies thoroughly in dressing and Parmesan.
  6. Chill pasta in refrigerator at least an hour, and enjoy!
    • If your pasta looks dry the next day, simply add a little more Italian dressing until desired consistency is reached.


Holly · July 30, 2012 at 9:32 am

OMG what a neat idea on slicing the tomatoes! I never would have thought of that.

Is that one of those plastic knives? (I don't know the actual material – teflan?) How do you find them to work? I kind of want a set but they seem like they wouldn't be sharp enough or dull rather quickly.

    Paula M · July 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Isn't the trick cool? I wish I remember where I learned it because that person deserves HUGE props.
    My knives are actually metal, but just brightly colored. My parents bought me a knife set about a year ago, and each blade is a different brightly colored hue. It's kind of fun. I have never used those plastic knives before, but I know what you're talking about.

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