This fresh Vegetarian Pasta Salad, a complete macaroni salad with crisp summer veggies, is a perfectly delicious cold salad side dish for your next picnic or party. With creamy mayo and a variety of awesome rainbow vegetables, this cookout potluck salad is practically no guilt and feeds a crowd quite easily.
Easy to make and delicious to enjoy, I personally love pasta salads (like my tri color pasta salad) because they are one of the few foods that taste better the next day and feed a hungry crowd!
Why this Recipe works
Any raw veggies go: You are welcome to add an addition of other raw veggies into this pasta salad, but all these colors and flavors really balance great together.
With or without pasta: Such a super pretty pasta salad, you can also easily leave out the pasta on this one if you want straight veggies!
- elbow macaroni – A lot of people always ask me in macaroni and pasta dishes if you can substitute the macaroni noodles for other pastas. Technically you can but traditionally you shouldn’t. Changing up the pasta can change the density and consistency of the side dish and its meant to soak up just the right amount of mayo for this to work.
- large tomato
- yellow, red pepper
- matchstick carrots
- red onion – if you want to take the kick out of a red onion for salads, simply cut and place in cold water for 30 minutes.
- real mayonnaise
- salt and pepper
Easy to Make Ahead
Rainbow Pastas are best served cold! Try to make ahead and leave in fridge for 4 hours prior to serving to give the vegetables time to chill.
How to make cold vegetable pasta salad
Step 1: Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain your macaroni pasta and rinse with cold water to cool.
Step 2: In a mixing bowl, add cucumber, tomato, red pepper, onion and carrots.
Step 3: Mix all your vegetables really well.
Step 4: Season your salad with salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise and mix to combine.
Step 5: Fold in your cooked (and cold) macaroni noodles.
Step 6: Refrigerate this pasta for 4 hours or overnight and serve cold. Stir and combine one more time before serving.
This macaroni pasta salad recipe as is serves 6-8
Make it low carb: This vegetable salad is so great because you could easily just use the cut veggies and skip the addition of the macaroni pastas. If you go this route and convert your salad to a low carb version, only add half the mayo to start, mix, and add more if needed. Without pasta, you may not need as much.
Miracle Whip or Mayo? You may be asking yourself is mayo is vegetarian – and it is. Because it is made from eggs, and eggs are not animals, most vegetarians will still eat mayonnaise products.
On occasion I am asked if you can use Miracle Whip over Mayo. While they often serve the same purpose, the tastes are preferential. I personally do not use Miracle Whip so I can not provide the measurements for that. Mayo products are NOT vegan.
You may be wondering how to make cold pasta salad vegetarian. The great news is that most pasta is 100% vegetarian already! You can check the pasta to be sure it doesn’t include any egg ingredients but most boxed pasta does not.
Never leave any foods with dressings or mayonnaise longer than 3 days to prevent the food from growing bacteria or getting too watery.
Now I would never say that pasta itself is a “healthy” salad, but carbs in and of themselves are not detrimental to your diet. In fact, this vegetable filled pasta salad with tomatoes, crunchy peppers and cucumber is a perfect balance of good for you and keeps you full all at once and it’s as beautiful to look at in the bowl as it is a complimentary side dish for chicken or freshly grilled summer hamburgers.
- Seafood Pasta Salad – This seafood pasta salad is made with shells and a mayonnaise base. While some of the ingredients are similar to this recipe it tastes nothing like it.
- Mediterranean Shrimp Salad – Tomatoes, Avocados and Shrimp, oh my! This is a super fresh salad with a simple non-mayo base.
- Tuna Pasta Salad – Corkscrew pasta, tuna and tomatoes make up this traditional side dish salad, perfect for picnics
- Creamy Bacon Pea Pasta Salad – Creamy Bacon Pea Pasta Salad is a delicious blend of Ranch seasoning, mayo, crunchy bacon and cheese to pull together this filling, tasty, and easy side salad.
- Tri Color Pasta Salad – this salad doesn’t have shrimp in it, although when we made it we had INTENDED on adding it. We just simply ran out of shrimp before we got to this recipe, but it would be an amazing addition.
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad – Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is a perfect classic summer salad recipe with bold flavors and compliments almost every meal as a side dish. Perfect for large groups, this pasta salad folds in a variety of delicious veggies and tops with a creamy homemade ranch dressing that fully pairs with every delicious bite
- BLT Pasta Salad – BLT Pasta Salad with mayo and ranch seasoning (making Ranch dressing) is the one salad that needs to make it to your BBQ picnics this year.
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