A pasta salad is one of the easiest meal-prep foods out there! Even with just a single box of pasta, by the time you add all of your fresh veggies, you end up with quite a large dish that can last you for days. This Vegan Italian Pasta Salad makes a perfect dinner, lunch, or even a side dish! It is also an easy way to start eating more vegetables.
When you think of Italian pasta salads, you probably think about mozzarella cheese and salami. But, if you add in some extra veggies, such as roasted red peppers, you can make an entirely plant-based Italian pasta salad that tastes just as good (if not better than) pasta salads with meat and dairy products.
Vegan Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients
- Tricolor rotini
- red onion
- black olives
- cherry tomatoes
- red bell peppers (optional)
- pepperoncinis (optional)
- vegan Italian dressing
If you decide to add roasted red bell peppers to your vegan pasta salad, you should do this first. It takes a little extra time to both roast them and wait for them to cool, so feel free to skip this step if you want the quickest pasta salad recipe. But if you’re adding them, make sure it is the first thing you do.
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Slice a red bell pepper into 1-inch size slices as shown in the photo below. Place them face down on an ungreased baking sheet. You don’t have to add oil in this step because you will be removing the skins after roasting, and letting them char makes it easier to remove the skins.
Once your oven is preheated, roast your red peppers for about 15 minutes, or until their skins begin to char. Remove them and allow them to cool before touching them. After they have cooled all the way, go ahead and remove their skins. Because they are charred, they should separate from the flesh of the pepper pretty easily. Slice the remaining peppers however you want. I chose to make mine small strips.
While the peppers are cooling, you can start chopping the rest of the ingredients, including cucumbers, parsley, cherry tomatoes, black olives, and red onion. If you prefer kalamata olives (like me), use them in place of the black olives. Or, skip the olives altogether if you aren’t a fan! You can also add pepperocinis or any other vegetables if you want to!
Once you have all of your veggies chopped, cook your tricolor rotini according to the box instructions, but ONLY to al dente. You want the pasta to be a little firm because it will absorb some of the dressing over time. Using al dente past prevents your noodles from getting mushy and also allows them to absorb a little more flavor.
After the rotini is cooked, combine all of the ingredients and add vegan Italian dressing. You can either make a homemade vegan Italian dressing, or you can use a store-bought dressing that is already vegan! I used Wishbone Italian dressing.
You can serve this vegan Italian pasta salad immediately, but it tastes better if you let all of the ingredients soak in the dressing for a while. Consider making it a day early and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight!
Vegan Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 box tricolor rotini (12 oz)
- ¾ cup red onion chopped
- ½ cup parsley chopped
- ½ cup black olives sliced (or sub kalamata olives)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 1 cup cucumber chopped into wedges (about ½ cucumber)
- 1+¾ cup vegan Italian dressing homemade or store-bought
- 1 red bell pepper roasted (optional)
- pepperocinis sliced (optional)
If adding roasted red peppers:
- Preheat oven to 500°F. Chop a red bell pepper into 1-inch slices. Place facedown on an ungreased baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until the skins become charred. Once cool, peel skins away and slice as desired.
If skipping (or while roasting) red peppers:
- Chop all of the ingredients as desired and place in a large bowl.
- Cook box of tricolor rotini to al dente ONLY. This will allow the pasta to absorb more flavors and avoid becoming mushy.
- Combine pasta with the other ingredients and add vegan Italian dressing. Serve immediately or let sit overnight (recommended)