Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad (30 Minutes)

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This Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad is a healthier take on a classic dish. Tender pasta combines with fresh veggies, hard boiled eggs, parmesan, and a tangy homemade dressing. Quick to prepare, it’s the perfect warm-weather side dish or main course! 

Overhead photo of a healthy loaded veggie pasta salad topped with shredded Parmesan cheese.

I have always loved pasta salads! In fact, one of my favorite meals growing up was my mom’s cold tuna pasta salad. However, delicious as it is, it’s not exactly healthy. 

So, I took inspiration from her recipe, using cold ingredients to create a filling dish. However, I spruced my version up with loads of veggies and a sweet and tangy homemade dressing. You won’t find any mayo here! 

And dare I say I think my version is even better than my mom’s. Plus, it’s ready in minutes, loaded with nutrients, and tastes even better the next day. Serve it as a main course or as a side along with cabbage salad and fruit salad at your next cookout. No matter what this cold pasta salad with veggies is always a hit! 

Ingredients You’ll Need

Overhead photo of loaded pasta salad ingredients in bowls.

Pasta Salad

  • Pasta – We use penne, but any shape you like best will work. We recommend sticking with small to medium sizes like shells or rotini! 
  • Broccoli – Chop this into bite-sized pieces to make it easy to mix into the salad. 
  • Frozen Peas – Make sure they’re fully thawed! 
  • Cucumber – We recommend using English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers. They have a thinner skin and fewer seeds than other varieties, making them easy to slice and eat! 
  • Red Onion – This adds a satisfying crunch and delicious tang. 
  • Kalamata Olives – We love the briny flavor these add. And they’re a great source of healthy fats! However, if you aren’t a fan you can just leave them out.
  • Turkey Pepperoni – This adds lots of protein while keeping the veggie pasta salad leaner than it would be if we used regular pepperoni. Of course, you’re welcome to do so! 
  • Hardboiled Eggs – These add a creamy consistency while boosting the protein content of the dish. 
  • Parmesan Cheese – Everything tastes better with cheese! 

Dressing

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This forms the base of the dressing and adds a peppery taste. 
  • Lemon Juice – The acidity brightens some of the heaviness of the fats, adding vibrant flavor. Freshly squeezed is best! 
  • Red Wine Vinegar – Do not substitute other vinegars. Red wine vinegar is needed to enhance the dressing adding tangy flavor and a subtle sweetness. 
  • Dijon Mustard – For extra tang. 
  • Honey – This adds a sweet taste without the need for refined sugar. Feel free to use maple syrup if preferred, and adjust the amount included to suit your preferences. 
  • SeasoningsItalian seasoning, salt, and pepper create an herbaceous flavor far better than any store-bought Italian dressing you’ll find! 
Up close photo of a white silicone serving spoon digging into loaded veggie pasta salad.

How to Make This Veggie Pasta Salad Recipe 

  1. Steam the broccoli. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. As it begins to boil, place a metal colander in the water. Add the chopped broccoli, and let it cook for 1-2 minutes or until bright green. Quickly remove the steamed broccoli from the pot, and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process. 
  2. Cook the pasta. The water should now be boiling. (It will look a little green from the broccoli, but that’s totally fine!) Cook the pasta according to the package instructions just until it reaches al dente. Drain, and run the pasta under cold water. 
  3. Prepare the dressing. While the pasta is cooking, whisk all the dressing ingredients in the bottom of a large bowl until well combined. 
  1. Combine the salad ingredients. Add the chopped veggies, pepperoni, hard-boiled eggs, Parmesan cheese, and pasta to the bowl of dressing. Mix to combine and coat the ingredients in the dressing. 
  1. Enjoy! Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or transfer the salad to the fridge to chill. 

Serving Suggestions

This pasta salad with veggies is a satisfying meal all on its own. However, it also works well as a side dish with main courses like: 

A high protein pasta salad in a white serving bowl topped with Parmesan cheese.

Common Questions

Can I make this recipe in advance? 

Yes! This vegetable pasta salad is best enjoyed within 1-2 days. However, it will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. We recommend adding extra lemon juice and/or olive oil to freshen up the salad before serving as the pasta tends to absorb the dressing. 

Can I add different vegetables? 

Sure! Feel free to include any veggies you have on hand and like best. For example, mushrooms and bell peppers would make great additions. 

Can I use a different dressing? 

Absolutely, feel free to use any homemade or store-bought dressing you like best!

Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad (30 Minutes) Recipe

Make this loaded veggie pasta salad in 30 minutes or less for a filling main course or side dish comfort food recipe you can feel good about serving!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Leftovers, Lunch, Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: All American
Keyword: pasta salad with veggies, veggie pasta salad
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 490kcal
Cost: $10.00

Equipment

Ingredients

Salad

  • 8 ounces penne, shells or rotini pasta (lentil or chickpea pasta adds more protein!)
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces and blanched
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup cucumber, cut in bite-sized pieces (about 1/2 a large cucumber)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 1 cup turkey pepperoni, sliced in half
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or freshly grated

Dressing

Instructions

  • As you bring a pot of water to a boil, set a metal colander in the water. Add the chopped broccoli and let it cook 1-2 minutes or until the broccoli has turned bright green. Quickly remove from the hot water and run broccoli under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set the broccoli aside to drain off the excess water before adding it to the salad.
    2 cups broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces and blanched
  • The water will look a little green, but once it starts to boil add the pasta. Cook to “al dente” according to the package. Once it is cooked, drain the hot water and run the pasta under cold water. Drain and set aside.
    8 ounces penne, shells or rotini pasta
  • In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Add the chopped veggies, pepperoni, hard boiled eggs, Parmesan cheese, and pasta to the bowl with the prepared dressing. Mix gently until all the ingredients are coated with dressing. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed.
    1/4 cup red onion, sliced thinly, 1 cup frozen peas, thawed, 1 cup cucumber, cut in bite-sized pieces (about 1/2 a large cucumber), 3 hard-boiled eggs, diced, 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half, 1 cup turkey pepperoni, sliced in half, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or freshly grated
  • Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

We make our own Italian seasoning, because we don’t prefer the ones sold in most grocery stores. Most of the store-bought varieties only contain basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme. However, we want garlic, onion, and salt in there as well. We’re extra like that. Ha! So if you are using a store-bought variety, make sure to add a little garlic and onion powder to the dressing along with the Italian seasoning. 
Using chickpea and lentil pasta add a TON of protein to this pasta along with the hard boiled eggs and turkey pepperoni.
This salad serves 4-6 for meal-sized portions or 8-10 as a side dish.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 490kcal

Did you enjoy this Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad Recipe? We’d love it if you left a rating and review to let us know, and don’t forget to tag us in your recreations on Instagram!

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