This is our go-to salad and common meal prep item all year around. It’s a Simple Italian Pasta Salad and it’s fabulous for lunch or as a side.
When you buy pasta salads, you often get a lot of pasta and only a minimal amount of vegetables. In this pasta salad, vegetables are the star! You can make it in advance and store it in the fridge for 5 to 7 days. We rotate hearty salads on a weekly basis as part of our Sunday meal prep because they are perfect to have on hand for a grab and go lunch or as a side dish with supper. This salad is also great to bring along to a potluck or a picnic. We had this one recently as a side to some barbecued veggie burgers and our Creamy Vegan Potato Salad.
What is the Deal With Spelt?
You can make this Simple Italian Pasta Salad with a whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta as well. Just be sure to not overcook it because you will want the pasta to remain intact when you mix it. Some of our favourite gluten free brands include GoGo Quinoa and Tinkyada. We made this salad with Eden Organic Spelt Pasta. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat. The spelt seed has not been hybridized like wheat and, therefore, some people find it easier to digest. However, it does still contain gluten, so it is not suitable for anyone with a gluten allergy such as Celiac disease. If we are not making a gluten free dish, we use a local organic spelt flour as our primary flour.
Unlike most pasta salads, this Simple Italian Pasta Salad contains a lot of veggies. We pack onions, two whole peppers, spinach and a pint of grape tomatoes into this dish. You can add any vegetable that you like, but we stay away from watery vegetables such as cucumber if we’re going to keep this dish for a few days. Sun-dried tomatoes would also be a great addition here for an extra boost of flavour.
Quality Oil is the Key to this Pasta Salad
We used a really good quality olive oil in this dish. All olive oils are not created equally! If you can, always choose an oil that has been cold pressed, which means that the oil has been extracted without the use of heat or chemicals. It involves crushing the olives into a paste, then applying force with a mechanical press to separate the oil from the pulp. When possible, we also choose organic olive oil. When olive oil is cold pressed, it contains more nutrients and health benefits. Olive oil is rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats and is high in antioxidants. It is also anti-inflammatory. Healthy fats are an important macronutrient in our diets and quality is key.
For other salad inspirations, you can also try out one of our other great salads below:
- Classic Vegan Macaroni Salad
- Ratatouille Pasta Salad
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Kale and Avocado Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing
- Loaded Greek Quinoa Salad
- Caesar salad with our Oil-Free Caesar Salad Dressing
This Simple Italian Pasta Salad is a fabulous bring-along to a potluck and perfect for a picnic. It’s also great to have in your fridge to take along for lunch on a work day or as a side dish. If you make it, please leave a comment and a rating. Show us yours and don’t forget to tag us @plantedandpicked on Instagram and hashtag it #plantedandpicked.
- 340 g pasta
- 2 small sweet peppers, seeded and diced we used 1 red & 1 yellow
- ½ cup red onion, diced 120 ml
- 2 cups spinach, packed 480 ml
- 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted 240 ml (sub sun-dried tomatoes if you don't like olives)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered 480 ml (about 2 cups)
- ⅓ cup good quality olive oil 80 ml
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar 80 ml
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 30 ml
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard 15 ml
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp italian seasoning 30 ml
- 1 tbsp tamari 15 ml
- 1 tsp paprika 15 ml
- ½ tsp sea salt 3 ml
- ¼ tsp crushed chilis 1 ml (optional)
- Cook your pasta of choice according to the directions on the package. Make sure the pasta isn't overcooked or it will fall apart in the salad. We used Eden Organic Spelt Pasta in this dish.
- Drain and rinse the pasta in cool water to stop the cooking process.
- Prep the veggies. Remove the stems from the spinach and roughly chop to measure about 2 cups packed.
- Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl and whisk together.
- Add the pasta to the bowl and stir. Add all the vegetables and stir again.
- Cover and let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours so that the flavours blend. Stir again before serving.
- This salad will keep well refrigerated for 5 to 7 days but it won't last that long!