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The Best Simple Vegetable Garden Pasta Salad

A simple Garden pasta salad is a classic American tradition throughout the summer months for picnics, barbecues, potlucks, and summer graduation parties. 

One of the simplest side dishes you can make for any of your summer activities.  Pasta salad is quick and easy to put together loaded with garden or farmer market vegetables and can be made with a variety of mayonnaise, miracle whip, or even your favorite Italian dressing Italian (oil and vinegar).

If you like this creamy dressing pasta salad you may also like The Best Easy Italian Pasta Salad: Pepperoni, Fresh Mini Mozzarella Balls, get the recipe here.

A fun picnic pasta side dish is Picnic Extra Lemon Pasta Salad, get the recipe here.

A delicious vegetable pasta salad can be made ahead, refrigerated, and ready to grab and go.  We all have a box or two of pasta in our cupboard, and during the summer months, our kitchen is loaded with fresh garden vegetables.

The Best Simple Vegetable Garden Pasta Salad pink bowl and spoon with green salt and pepper

Whenever I need a quick and simple side dish for friends coming over or to take to a picnic or barbecue, pasta salad is my go-to side dish. This delicious pasta salad is easy to make ahead of time. 

It can be prepared in stages and assembled when needed. You can chop all the ingredients and just add the dressing right before you walk out the door.  I have even taken this garden veggie, pasta salad with cheddar cheese and broccoli in separate plastic bags and assembled at the party when I arrive.

You can also make the entire pasta salad the day before. When you mix all the ingredients and add the mayonnaise the flavors combine together and taste even better the next day. You may just need to add a little mayonnaise right before serving to give it a little extra mix.

When Jin and I first dated, we had a movie date planned when his sister needed a small repair job done at her new home.  To keep our date budget-friendly and make sure we go to the movie on time I packed a picnic dinner and arrived at his sisters when the job was almost done. We sat on the floor with a checked table cloth as the home did not have any furniture. I brought all we needed, this creamy cheese and broccoli fabulous pasta salad, egg salad sandwiches, and pop to drink.

I found the basic recipe for a pasta salad in a Kraft pamphlet, modified the recipe to add lots of summer vegetables.  This recipe has been a favorite of my husband’s from that day forward. I am not saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but that is the traditional saying of the older women in our family. πŸ˜‰

From that day forward now over 30 years of marriage I have been making this salad and many other pasta salads.

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The Best Simple Vegetable Garden Pasta Salad pink bowl and spoon with green salt and pepper

How to Make a Simple Vegetable Garden Pasta Salad

  • Start cooking the pasta. Start water boiling in a large pot on the stove and cook the pasta per the instructions on the box. I like to cook the pasta 1 minute less than instruction so the pasta holds up better in the salad.
  • I like to use my Instant Pot to cook the pasta. Add the box of pasta to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Add about 4 cups of cold water just enough to cover the pasta. Cook on High Pressure for 4 minutes, with a fast release.
  • While the pasta is cooking chop all the vegetables and set them in a bowl ready to do. If you are prepping this ahead put the vegetable in plastic containers or plastic bags and store in the refrigerator.
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool off the pasta.  At this point, you can refrigerate the pasta also to make it the next day.
  • If serving right away, mix all the pasta, vegetable, and mayonnaise together and refrigerate.
The Best Simple Vegetable Garden Pasta Salad pink bowl and spoon with green salt and pepper

Supplies Needed for Creamy Veggie Pasta Salad:

Variations of Loaded Vegetable Pasta Salad

One of the best features of making a cold pasta salad for a side dish is that you can make it to your and your family’s tastes. The recipe calls for cheddar cheese but you can use Swiss or provolone or mozzarella mini balls.

You can change up the vegetables to whatever you have in your kitchen or garden.

The type of pasta can also be changed around.  I used the rotini for our recipe but mini bow tie, pipe, penne, wagon wheels, and shells. You want a pasta that will hold together when mixed with the dressing and all the vegetables.

You can also experiment with the dressing, we use our family traditional Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise. You can use Miracle Whip or a mixture of plain yogurt and sour cream.

The Best Simple Vegetable Garden Pasta Salad fork
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The Best Simple Vegetable Garden Pasta Salad pink bowl and spoon

The Best Simple Vegetable Garden Pasta Salad

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  • Author: Crafting a Family
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American


Creamy delicious light loaded with vegges pasta salad. Make the day, or prepare all the ingredients and mix right before you want to serve.


Units Scale
  • 1 Barilla Pasta, Rotini, 16 Ounce
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise (may need 1/2 cup extra depending on the amount of vegetable used)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 8 oz of cheddar cheese cut into cubes
  • 2 cups of broccoli cut into small flowerets (raw)
  • 1 to 2 boxes of grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts ruff chop
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the pasta to al dente, if boiling on the stove cook 1 minute less that the package suggests. If using an Instant Pot, add 4 cups of water to the box of pasta, enough water to cover the pasta, a dash of salt and cook high pressure 4 minutes fast release.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, chop all of the parsley, cheese, broccoli, grape tomatoes and walnuts.
  3. When the pasta is cooked drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  4. When the pasta is cool, mix all the remaining ingredients and stir.
  5. Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to overnight.


  • Serving Size: 8
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