Home » Food

5 easy pasta salad recipes

pasta salads

Nothing quite beats a hearty pasta salad, whether it's for dinner, a lazy weekend lunch or even a barbecue side dish. The beauty of this kind of salad is that it's very quick to make, requires minimal effort - which can, quite frankly, often be a blessing after a busy day - and is fairly healthy too. So here are our favourite pasta salad recipes, including vegetarian and vegan options, to whip up in the kitchen.


Sign up to Gransnet for more lunch ideas


1. Tuna pasta salad

You can't go wrong with a classic and this recipe is one of the most popular on the list. Taking only 30 minutes to rustle up, it's the ideal dish for a quick lunch or as a side salad - when the weather's on your side, of course.  

tuna pasta salad 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4



  • 250g pasta
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 10 black olives
  • 200g tuna in oil or brine
  • 6 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • Grated Parmesan (optional)



  1. Boil the pasta as per the instructions.
  2. Chop the tomatoes in half and put them into a bowl along with the tuna, olives, mayonnaise, lemon juice and capers. Mix well.
  3. Cool the pasta with cold water once cooked and add it to the tuna mixture.
  4. Garnish with Parmesan if using and serve warm or cold with a slice of bread.


2. Vegan pasta salad

This zesty vegan super salad is one of our favourites and is packed full of flavour. Perfect for an on-the-go meal during the week or as an accompaniment to a family meal, this plant-based dish is a failsafe option for a variety of occasions.

vegan pasta salad ingredients

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4



  • 300g penne or pasta shells
  • 100g green beans (cut into 2cm pieces)
  • 100g soya beans (edamame) - frozen is fine
  • 100g petit pois
  • Small packet of chives (snipped)
  • 1 large avocado (peeled, stoned and cut into cubes)
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed (optional)



  1. Cook pasta according to the instructions, adding the beans and peas for the last two minutes of cooking time.
  2. Drain and rinse under cold water until cooled - this helps the vegetables to retain their vibrant green colour.
  3. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and zest (and garlic if using), seasoning to taste.
  4. Put the pasta and beans in a large bowl, carefully stir in the avocado then add the dressing and chives. Mix together and serve.


3. Chicken pasta salad

Fire up the grill and indulge yourself in a filling and delicious dish. We love this particularly for its mustard and coriander dressing, which really does add some extra je ne sais quoi to an otherwise simple recipe.

grilled chicken 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2



  • 100g pasta (fusili or farfalle)
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 200g sweetcorn with no added sugar (drained)
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper (diced)
  • Handful of mushrooms (sliced)


For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp half fat crème fraîche
  • ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice (optional)
  • Small handful fresh coriander (finely chopped)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste



  1. Heat the grill to a high heat.
  2. Grill the chicken breast for 6-8 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Leave to cool then slice or tear into pieces.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water until al dente. Drain and then run under a cold tap to cool, then set aside.
  4. To make the dressing, simply mix the dressing ingredients together.
  5. Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl, combine with the dressing ingredients and serve.


Get the latest recipes delivered straight to your inbox...


4. Pasta salad with basil vinaigrette

If you're after an easy vegetarian pasta salad, you can't get much better than this straightforward recipe featuring a flavourful basil vinaigrette. Add a little Parmesan cheese into the mix and away you go.

pasta salad with balsamic vinaigrette 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 8 (as a side dish)



  • 225g penne pasta
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 50g black olives
  • 25g sun-dried tomatoes in oil (optional)
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, to garnish


For the vinaigrette:

  • 15g basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice



  1. Cook the pasta lightly, drain, then place in large bowl.
  2. Make the vinaigrette: place the basil, garlic, cheese, oil and lemon juice in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Process until all combined.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into wedges. Pit and halve the olives, then slice the sun-dried tomatoes and toast the pine nuts if using.
  4. Combine all ingredients and serve scattered with grated Parmesan, pine nuts and a few basil leaves.


5. Party pasta salad

Who says party food has to be unhealthy? When lockdown is eventually over, mix up your party platter with a large bowl of pasta salad as your centrepiece. The ideal recipe for a birthday party, barbecue or larger family meal - or when we're allowed to at least!

garden party salad 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 8-10



  • 1 500g packet of pasta
  • 2 beef tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet pepper
  • 2 crisp apples
  • Spring onions
  • 1 small can of pineapple rings, chopped with the juice reserved 
  • 55g each of raisins and chopped walnuts
  • Juice of half a lime or a small lemon
  • 1 small carton of plain yoghurt
  • 4 large tbsp mayonnaise
  • Seasoning



  1. Cook the pasta and allow it to cool.
  2. Chop all the fruit and salad ingredients into bite size pieces, add the dried fruit and nuts and mix well.
  3. Mix together the yoghurt, mayonnaise, lime juice, and seasoning, then add a little chilli powder if you like.
  4. Add this to the pasta and mix well.


For more delicious recipes, visit our food index.

sign up to gransnet 










Images: Shutterstock