Zesty Pasta Salad

Cold pasta salads make perfect packable lunches for school, work, picnics and parties. This easy recipe is healthy with whole wheat pasta and fresh produce.

Looking for a dish to take on the go? Look no further than our zesty pasta salad! This dish can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge, making it the perfect option for days when you need to grab and go. Plus, it’s a great way to use up any leftover produce you have in the fridge. And the best part? It’s healthy too since it’s made with whole wheat pasta and a colorful blend of delicious produce. So next time you need a portable lunch, appetizer, or side dish option, give this cold pasta salad a try.

How Did Pasta Salad Come To Be?

Believe it or not, pasta salad is a dish that can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome. Historian Claudia Roden and some other historians and chefs believe that the origins of pasta salad in Italy trace to Italian Jews who resided there during the Roman empire since Jewish Law prohibited cooking on Sabbath. Pasta salad started appearing in American cookbooks in the late 19th century (with the first using macaroni noodles), and it has been a staple of potlucks and picnics ever since.

How to make zesty pasta salad

Today, there are countless variations on pasta salad, but the basic ingredients remain the same: pasta mixed with either mayo or a blend of olive oil and vinegar, and spices. They often are loaded with veggies and/or spices as well. Whether you’re looking for a simple side dish or a hearty main course, pasta salad is always a good choice.

What’s in Our Zesty Pasta Salad?

— Low-Fat Italian salad dressing: You could make your own, but store-bought is fine

— Fresh basil: Basil is the perfect ingredient in this pasta salad for a couple of reasons. First, its flavor pairs well with our other zesty pasta salad ingredients like tomatoes, avocado, and mushrooms. Second, it’s an easy herb to grow at home or to buy fresh at your local grocery store, so you can always have it on hand when you’re in the mood for a tasty dish.

Tomatoes In the Zesty Pasta Salad

— Garlic: Everything Italian is better with garlic

— Whole Wheat Pasta: Whole wheat pasta is the better choice for pasta salad. For one, it has a nutty flavor that goes well with but doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. It also holds up well to being dressed, so you don’t have to worry about the salad getting soggy or the pasta breaking down as it sits. Plus, whole wheat pasta is a good source of fiber and nutrients.

— Grape tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, and onions: The bright flavor of the tomato combined with the rich creaminess of the avocado, the earthy flavor of mushrooms, and that familiar zing of onion – this pasta salad is called zesty for a reason! It earned its name!

Avocado For Pasta Salad

Make a Big Batch Ahead of Time

When it comes to pasta salad, the general rule of thumb is that it will last in the fridge for about 3-4 days. Of course, this all depends on how the salad is made and how it is stored. If your recipe contains mayonnaise or other dairy products, it will likely not last as long as one without those ingredients. Since our zesty pasta salad is not made with mayo – it should hold up well in the fridge for a few days.

The best way to extend the life of your pasta salad is to store it in an airtight container in the fridge. With proper storage, you can enjoy your delicious pasta salad for days to come! So make a big batch and enjoy!

Make sure to PIN IT!

Zesty Pasta Salad

Amanda Keefer
Cold pasta salads make perfect packable lunches for school, work, picnics and parties. This easy Zesty Pasta Salad recipe is healthy with whole wheat pasta and fresh produce.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Lunchbox Ideas
Servings 6
Calories 614 kcal


  • 1/4 cup lowfat Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups whole wheat pasta cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion


  • Combine dressing, basil, and garlic in small bowl.
  • Place pasta in large bowl; add tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms and onion. Add dressing and toss until evenly coated.


Calories: 614kcalCarbohydrates: 108gProtein: 20gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 1037mgPotassium: 263mgFiber: 14gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 309IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword meal prep, pasta, pasta salad, veggies, whole grains
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