This Healthy Italian Pasta salad has it all, it's simple, delicious, colourful and fresh. It's great to serve as a side dish or eat on its own!
The dressing also doesn't require any mayonnaise, making it a much lighter and healthier option too. It's still packed with flavor so you won't miss the mayo! It takes 15 minutes to make and is all done while your pasta is cooking 🙂
This healthy pasta salad is full of fresh veggies along with olives and artichokes which are my favourite part! It also includes chickpeas for protein, you can enjoy it as a main meal as it will fill you up.
Since it's an Italian pasta salad, I've also added some grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, but you can totally leave this out to easily make a Vegan recipe too.
I love making a batch at the beginning of the week as it holds up great in the fridge for meal prep. Since it has a light homemade Italian dressing and there isn't any lettuce, it won't go soggy either.
Serve it at your next BBQ or picnic or even take it to the beach. The vibrant colours are so inviting it will be your new favourite summer pasta salad which will impress everyone 🙂
Ingredients to make Healthy Pasta Salad
- Short pasta, I’ve used sea shell pasta but you can use fusilli, farfalle, penne or rotini pasta. If you're gluten-free, make sure to use a legume or gluten free pasta
- Chickpeas are added for some plant based protein. I’ve used canned chickpeas here. You can also use other legumes or even chicken, shrimp or salami if you're not plant based
- Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes give a lovely burst of flavour and also crunch
- Cucumbers are added as some crunchy greens. I always prefer using Persian cucumbers or Lebanese cucumbers. Bell peppers can also be great too.
- Black olives or Kalamata olives bring a lovely saltiness. It's best to make sure they are pitted olives to save you time when slicing them
- Marinated artichokes are my absolute favourite! I buy the jarred ones and then slice them to make them small bite sized pieces
- Arugula leaves (rocket) gives a yummy peppery taste. If you like raw red onion, this would add to this too
- Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese) is grated at the end. You can also use pecorino cheese, fresh mozzarella balls or feta cheese would be great. If you are vegan, use a plant based cheese or omit it
- Extra virgin olive oil is of course the base of the vinaigrette
- Vinegar is added for acidity or you can also use lemon juice. I usually prefer white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but apple cider vinegar will also work great
- Fresh parsley gives the yummiest freshness to this Italian dressing. Basil would be great too. Fresh herbs are always best, but you can of course use dry parsley, oregano or Italian seasoning too. If you like it spicy, add some red pepper flakes
How to make Healthy Italian Pasta Salad
This Italian pasta salad uses a handful of ingredients to make a simple and delicious pasta salad using classic Italian flavours. The best part, it's all made in a few simple steps.
- Start by cooking the pasta in heavily salted boiling water until al dente. Whilst the pasta is cooking, prepare the ingredients by chopping the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives and artichokes into similar-sized pieces. This is an important step as you want each mouthful to be consistent and no one ingredient overpowering in terms of size
- The essence of any salad is the dressing, for this pasta salad I've used a simple Italian based dressing, of olive oil, vinegar (or lemon), parsley and salt. I like to prepare the dressing in same salad serving bowl and then give it a good whisk
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and let it stand for a couple of minutes before adding into the salad bowl with the dressing. You want to give it a good toss so its all nicely coated whilst the pasta is still warm
- Add all the chopped vegetables along with chickpeas for protein and the arugula leaves. Give it a good mix.
- Top with grated parmesan cheese, then mix again. It's ready to serve!
Tips for this Italian Pasta Salad recipe
- Don't over boil your pasta! You don't want a mushy pasta salad so make sure it's al dente and still has a light bite to it. Always check the package instructions for the type of pasta
- Don't rinse the pasta under cold water. I've seen a lot of this and I don't like to do it as it takes away the flavor
- Save time on dishes by making the salad dressing in the same serving bowl, then add the pasta straight to it
- Cut the vegetables into similar size pieces so its easier to eat and that way you get a piece of everything in the same bite
More Healthy Salads
Healthy Italian Pasta Salad
- 300 g short pasta (I’ve used sea shell pasta)
- 250 g cooked or canned chickpeas
- 250 g cherry tomatoes
- 2 medium cucumbers
- 100 g black olives
- 150 g marinated artichokes
- 2 big handfuls arugula leaves (rocket)
- 60 g Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese)
- 4-5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoon vinegar or 1 lemon squeezed
- 1 bunch chopped parsley leaves
- Salt to taste
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Cook pasta in heavily salted boiling water until al dente (make sure not to overcook the pasta)
- While the pasta is cooking, make the Italian salad dressing by combining the ingredients in a large serving bowl and whisk.
- Chop the cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives and artichokes into bite sized pieces
- When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and let it cool down a little. Add the pasta straight into the serving bowl and mix into the dressing while it's still slightly warm
- Add the chopped vegetables along with the chickpeas and arugula leaves and mix together. Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve your Healthy Italian Pasta Salad!