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 vegetables, this salad is practically no guilt and feeds a crowd quite easily.
Pasta Salad is the BEST side dish!
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!
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 keep you full all at once and its as beautiful to look at in the bowl as it is a complimentary side dish for chicken or freshly grilled summer hamburgers.
And if you are looking for other delicious options to serve that include a healthy selection of veggies, you should also try these avocado pesto zoodles.
Vegetarian Pasta Salad Recipe
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.
Such a super pretty pasta salad, you can also easily leave out the pasta on this one if you want straight veggies!
Scroll to the bottom for a printable version of this post, including all measurements and instructions, so you can follow along in your kitchen without being on your phone.
Here is what ingredients you need to gather to get started:
- elbow macaroni
- large tomato
- yellow, red pepper
- matchstick carrots
- red onion
- real mayonnaise
- salt and pepper
Making the Best Vegetable Filled Cold Pasta Salad
Cook macaroni according to package directions.
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.
If you would like to change it up, let me know how it goes! Just note that you may need to adjust the dressing.
Drain your macaroni pasta and rinse with cold water to cool.
In a mixing bowl, add cucumber, tomato, red pepper, onion and carrots.
Mix all your vegetables really well.
Add mayonnaise and mix to combine.
Thinning out Mayo Dressing
I prefer a thicker may dressing on my pasta salad. That being said, if you prefer to lighten up this recipe with less mayo, alter your may down to 1 cup and mix with 1/4th cup milk.
The addition of the milk helps thin out the mayo giving it a creamy and light texture, with just enough “dressing” covering the veggies.
Season your salad with salt and pepper.
Fold in your cooked (and cold) macaroni noodles.
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
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.
Low Carb Vegetarian Pasta Salad
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.
Is Pasta Vegetarian?
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.
How long can you leave Pasta Salad in the fridge?
I never leave any foods with dressings or mayonnaise longer than 3 days to prevent the food from growing bacteria or getting too watery.
More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes
Need more pasta salads to serve?
- 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.
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- cucumber, sliced in rounds
- large tomato, chopped
- yellow red pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 1/2 cups real mayonnaise
- salt and pepper
- Cook macaroni according to package directions.
- Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, add cucumber, tomato, red pepper, onion and carrots. Mix well.
- Add mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in cooked macaroni and mix.
- (see article for information on thinning out mayo for a lighter dressing)
- Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
- Stir well before serving.
- Serves 6-8