This Balsamic Dressing Pasta Salad is a classic easy to make vegan pasta salad.
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I made this pasta salad to take to a picnic at the park. And, because it was going to sit out at the park, not in a refrigerator, I wanted no mayo, no sour cream, no cheese, or dairy of any kind in my dish.
I wanted to make a pasta salad that didn’t have those culprits that can lead to food poisoning if left out too long. That’s not to say that you can leave this out indefinitely. Just that mayo and creamy foods do have a bad rep.
This is a great make ahead recipe as well
If you want to make this pasta salad in advance, the pasta does soak up some of the moisture, so give it a stir, and check it before serving to see if it needs a little more dressing.
Pasta salad will last for 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Make sure to cover it tightly with plastic wrap, or store it in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
What pasta shape to use
I went with Rotini for my pasta for this pasta salad. I think it’s a fun shape that fairly easy to eat with just a fork. No cutting or twirling of the pasta needed. Bow ties or macaroni would also work well.
Remember, at the park or picnic, there isn’t much in the way of utensils or great sturdy places to set your plate down while you eat. So, easy to eat things win the day!
One thing you may notice about this recipe (and quite a few of my recipes) is that I say to place the chopped red onion in the strainer, and pour the pasta cooking water over it.
I do this to slightly cook my red onion; it softens to just enough to take the harsh raw bite out of it, but it still retains the nice crunch.
I find that most of my guests like this mellower onion flavor as well.
Why do you say to cook the pasta until slightly underdone?
Soft overcooked pasta can fall apart when you toss it with dressing. And if you let your salad marinate for several hours, the pasta absorbs extra moisture and turns even more mushy.
So, keeping the pasta slightly underdone allows it to stay nice once mixed with dressing.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Because I wanted this recipe to be super easy to make, I suggest using bottled balsamic dressing. This is the one I used for my pasta salad. It tastes great!
Any bottled balsamic dressing will work; use your favorite. Or whatever you can find at the store.
Or, make your own. Use this recipe for Italian Dressing and make it with balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic Dressing Pasta Salad Recipe
Balsamic Dressing Pasta Salad
- 1 pound Pasta
- ½ small Red Onion finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
- 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
- fresh oregano or basil for garnish
- Cook pasta in salted water until tender, but just slightly underdone. While pasta cooks, place chopped red onion in the bottom of a strainer. Once pasta has just finished cooking, pour the boiling water over the onion through the strainer, and strain the cooked pasta. Rinse the pasta with cold water, and drain completely. Place the drained pasta and onion in a large bowl and allow to cool.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the pasta mixture, and gently toss to combine. Garnish with fresh oregano or basil as desired.