Light and slightly tangy creamy pasta salad, with just enough dressing to coat the noodles and vegetables, this is one heck of an awesome summer pasta salad.
Perfect on its own for a light meal or as a side dish for all the summer potlucks and barbecues. Homemade pasta salad is better than any deli salad you can buy at the store.
A few years ago, while visiting my aunt and uncle, we were fortunate enough to arrive around dinnertime. (My aunt is a fabulous cook, so I tend to time my arrivals that way. You know, accidentally on purpose?)
Speaking of Aunt Judy’s amazing foods, have you tried her Almond Bars yet? Put them on your holiday baking list right now.
Her pasta salad was so simple and so delicious, I had to recreate it for my family as soon as I got back home. Thanks once again for the inspiration, Aunt Judy.
Summer Pasta Salad
This salad is filled with broccoli, cucumber, red pepper, black olives, and green onions. I am a big fan of pasta dishes that have a high ratio of vegetables to pasta, so don’t hesitate to add more or switch things up with your favorite vegetables.
Adding extra vegetables to a pasta salad is about more than just making it a little bit healthier. Vegetables add different flavors, textures, and colors to recipes like this one. This salad is about 50/50 pasta and vegetables and I often make it with more vegetables than are actually in the recipe.
Everything gets tossed in a light tangy dressing and the result is a fresh pasta salad that disappears quite literally almost as quickly as I can stir it together.
Cooking the broccoli just long enough to brighten the color and soften the crunch gives this salad a little something extra. (So, I highly recommend that you don’t skip that step.)
That said, if you love the crunch of raw broccoli in salads, go ahead and make it however you like best. I’ve fallen in love with broccoli salads recently (FYI, this Cranberry Broccoli Bacon Salad is FANTASTIC!), so I get it if that’s your preference.
For this particular salad though, I still like to soften the broccoli a tiny bit, as instructed in the recipe below.
Pasta Salad Dressing
The dressing for this pasta salad is creamy, slightly tangy, a little bit sweet, and provides the perfect light complement to this salad.
As simple as it is, it’s absolutely perfect. A scoop of mayonnaise, a splash of vinegar, a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and sugar add up to a terrific pasta salad dressing that everyone enjoys.
If you haven’t tried the salad yet, I hope that you’ll love it every bit as much as we do. Every time I make this salad, I stash containers of it in the fridge for my lunches all week.
Creamy Pasta Salad
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this recipe:
- salad macaroni or ditalini pasta
- tiny broccoli florets
- diced cucumber
- finely diced red pepper
- sliced black olives
- very thinly sliced green onion
- white wine or plain vinegar
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Creamy Pasta Salad Recipe
- In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, adding a generous tablespoon or so of kosher salt to the water as it cooks.
- Just before the noodles are done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Let the broccoli boil for about 30 seconds and then drain everything into a large strainer. Rinse well with cold water.
- Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir well to coat.
- Add the cucumber, pepper, olives, and onions and stir again.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving.
If you forget to toss the broccoli in the boiling water at the end of the pasta’s cooking time, you can also steam it in the microwave. Place the broccoli in a glass bowl along with a tablespoon of water. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, until the broccoli is bright green and barely softened.
Pasta Salad Recipes
If you love pasta salad for easy meals all year round, you’ll want to try this Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad and the Italian Artichoke and Tomato Pasta Salad after you’ve finished the last bite of this Creamy Pasta Salad.
Many of you are still going crazy over the Spinach Pasta Salad I shared so many years ago. I make that one on repeat all year long.
Crisp bacon and lettuce, tart tomatoes, creamy hard-boiled eggs, and jalapenos combine to create this creamy, slightly spicy Jalapeno BLT Pasta Salad.
Creamy Summer Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces salad macaroni or ditalini pasta
- 1 cup tiny broccoli florets
- ½ cup diced cucumber
- ½ cup finely diced red pepper
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- ¼ cup very thinly sliced green onion
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons white wine or plain vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, adding a generous tablespoon or so of kosher salt to the water as it cooks. Just before the noodles are done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Let the broccoli boil for about 30 seconds and then drain everything into a large colander. Rinse well with cold water.
- Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir well to coat.
- Add the cucumber, pepper, olives, and onions and stir again. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving.
(originally published 6/6/14 – recipe notes and photos updated 3/22/23}