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QUICK N’ HEALTHY VEGETABLE PASTA SALAD

Healthy Vegetable Pasta Salad features chopped bell peppers, refreshing cucumber, juicy cherry tomatoes and protein rich chickpeas for a quick and easy cold pasta salad everyone will love!

top down view of freshly made vegetable pasta in a pot.

Inspired by my, Chopped Vegetable Salad + Garlic Dressing, which is simply colorful vegetables tossed together with a zesty lemon-garlic vinaigrette. I’ve taken the vegetables and dressing, and tossed them together with pasta and chickpeas.

It’s light, filling and has just the right amount of dressing to give it zest and favor. It’s a classic cold pasta salad that’s healthy and delicious!

What makes this pasta salad healthy is that it’s filled with fresh veggies and uses a small amount of oil (which can also be omitted). I threw in a can of chickpeas for a more well-rounded side dish that can double as a meal.

I especially love the ease and casualness of this salad. This recipe comes together in under 30 minutes. And it makes a large batch, which is perfect for entertaining a crowd or weekly meal prep!

So without further ado, let’s get to it!

top down view of ingredients used to make healthy vegetable pasta.

Ingredients For Healthy Pasta Salad

Here is everything you will need, including a few substitution ideas where noted. Measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

  • Pasta. Use any small pasta such as bow tie, shells, macaroni, penne, rotini, etc.
  • Bell peppers. Use 2 or 3 of your favorite colors.
  • Cucumber. Adds a cool and refreshing crunch. Use regular, English, or Persian cucumber.
  • Tomatoes. Use grape or cherry tomatoes.
  • Chickpeas. Both canned or fresh cooked are great. Edamame would also work well.
  • Garlic. Use fresh minced or jarred minced for convenience.
  • Lemon. Fresh is always the best. If using bottled make sure it’s fresh and preservative free.
  • Oil. Use your favorite neutral oil.
  • Dijon.
  • Salt + pepper.

side by side photos of cooked pasta in a pot and lemon dressing in a small bowl.

How To Make Vegetable Pasta Salad

Here is a quick look at the steps for reference. See the recipe card below for the full printable recipe.

  • Cook the pasta according to package, drain and set aside back in the pot you cooked it in.
  • Make the pasta salad dressing, in a small bowl add the garlic, lemon, olive oil, and dijon. Feel free to add an extra tablespoon of oil to the dressing if you like. I kept it at 1 tablespoon to reduce oil but 2 – 3 tablespoons wouldn’t hurt.
side by side photos showing the process of making healthy vegetable pasta with chickpeas.
  • While the pasta is cooking, prep the colorful veggies and drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  • Add the veggies, chickpeas and dressing to the pasta, toss well and enjoy!

And that’s it, healthy pasta salad made quick and easy! Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Top Tips

  • Spice it up with a little heat. Try adding ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes to the salad or a pinch to your serving for a nice bit of heat. Or add a diced jalapeno to the mix.
  • Add onion. For another layer of flavor, diced red onion or thinly sliced scallions would be delicious.
  • Add leafy greens. Toss in a handful of arugula, baby spinach or baby kale for even more color and nutrition. It will naturally soften in the salad.
  • Adjust to taste. As will all my recipes, feel free to adjust any ingredient up or down to suit your taste.
top down view of meal prepped vegetable pasta in glass containers.

Make Ahead + Meal Prep

  • Make ahead: This veggie pasta salad holds up extremely well and can be made a day or two in advance and stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. If you do make it ahead, you might consider making a little extra dressing to toss it with just before serving. For dressing variation, try this Healthy Flax & Evo Balsamic Vinaigrette!
  • Meal prep: Meal prep is a breeze with this very forgiving and storable pasta salad. I was able to fill 5 three cup containers with this recipe.

How Long Will Pasta Salad Last?

Leftovers will stay fresh for up to 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container.

Dietary Adjustments

For those looking to tweak the recipe for dietary concerns, here are a few ingredient suggestions to guide you.

  • Oil-free: In place of oil, use water, extra lemon, or apple cider vinegar.
  • Gluten-free: Simply use your favorite gluten-free pasta (there are plenty on the store shelves these days!).
top down view of healthy pasta salad in a bowl with items surronding.

If you try this easy pasta recipe or have a question, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

Print

QUICK N’ HEALTHY VEGGIE PASTA SALAD

This veggie filled healthy pasta salad with zesty garlic-lemon dressing is the best! Chickpeas are added for extra protein, and because they are just so good! This salad will feed a crowd and can be made in advance.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Category: Salad, Pasta
  • Method: boil, mix
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 16 oz. bowtie pasta (or your favorite small pasta)
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 4 oz. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

Zesty Garlic Lemon Dressing

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • juice of 2 lemons (about 1/41/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • mineral salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions

Pasta: Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, dijon, oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Assemble salad: Once veggies are prepped, using either a large mixing or serving bowl, or pot the pasta was cooked in, combine the pasta, veggies and dressing, toss well to coat.

Chill: Place in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours or enjoy as is.

Serve: Spoon into individual bowls and top with a squeeze of lemon and/or a light dusting of Almond Parmesan. Enjoy the simples!

Serves 6 – 8

Store: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 – 6 days. This is a great salad for a pot-luck or family/work gathering. Can be made 1 – 2 days in advance.

Notes

Add extra zest and flavor using lemon-pepper or garlic-sea salt!

Sub the chickpeas with edamame.

Make this oil-free by subbing the oil with water, lemon, or apple cider vinegar.

Make this gluten-free by using gluten-free pastas of choice.

Keywords: healthy pasta salad, vegetable pasta salad

Updated: Healthy Veggie Pasta Salad was originally published in August 2016. It has been retested and updated with new photos and helpful tips in January 2021.

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8 Comments

  1. The dressing for this salad was perfection, nice and zippy. I will definitely make this again and may use the dressing for other salads.

  2. Yummy! The whole post was beautiful with the pictures and all. Thank you!

  3. Made it and loved it! Simple, delicious, and healthy. Much appreciation!

  4. I love this! I would recommend, however, using more olive oil and less garlic and lemon in your sauce. It’s a little much, but it’s still very good!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      The lemon and garlic are what I love the most. And I was trying to keep it healthy with as little oil as possible. I guess it really does depends on your taste. Otherwise, glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the feedback, Katja! :)

  5. Nina | Lemons and Luggage says:

    Ooh, this sounds perfect! I love chickpeas so much, but I get tired of using them in the same recipes over and over again. Never thought of adding them to a pasta salad though!

  6. This recipe looks great! What is the serving size?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      About 2 cups or so. I didn’t measure exactly, but would say that is a pretty good guesstimate. Hope that helps. Cheers :)

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