This zesty, easy Italian Pasta Salad is the perfect recipe to meal prep for the week. It’s full of fibre, protein, and veggies! Pack it for lunch or serve it as a side dish with dinner! This recipe is vegetarian, and can easily be made vegan and gluten-free.
This recipe is basically a combination of two of my favourite things; pasta…and loaded salads! If you don’t know by now, I love a good pasta salad recipe, and this one is no exception.
But because I like to enjoy pasta salad at lunch time (it makes an awesome packed lunch that you can meal prep at the start of the week), I wanted to boost up the protein a little bit to make it more filling, while keeping the recipe plant-based. The solution? Chickpeas!
This Italian Pasta Salad is loaded with veggies, whole grain pasta, chickpeas, mozzarella, and a super easy zesty Italian dressing. The best part? It all comes together in 25 minutes or less! Let’s get cooking!
Ingredients for this Italian Pasta Salad:
To make this pasta salad recipe, you’ll need:
- Short whole wheat pasta, like penne or fusilli
- Canned chickpeas
- Mozzarella cheese
- Orange bell pepper
- Red onion
- Cherry tomatoes
- Olives (optional)
- Arugula (optional)
To make the easy, zesty Italian dressing, you’ll need:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Italian seasoning
- Minced garlic
How to Make This Healthy Pasta Salad Recipe:
It’s really easy! In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta and chickpeas. Next, add the chopped orange bell pepper, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped onion, olives, and cubed mozzarella cheese. Then, toss it all together to combine.
Once the pasta ingredients are mixed together, we make the dressing. To make the Italian dressing, add all dressing ingredients to a mason jar or other airtight container. Screw on the lid and shake well for 30-60 seconds until well-incorporated.
Finally, pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss it all together to combine. If you like, you can serve the pasta salad over a bed of arugula or another leafy green. I love doing this to bump up the nutrition even more, and add some green into the mix!
- Whole wheat pasta: You don’t have to use whole wheat pasta if you prefer to use traditional white pasta.
- Chickpeas: You can swap white kidney beans for chickpeas, or omit altogether and double the amount of pasta.
- Orange bell pepper: Use any other bell pepper that you have on hand!
- Cherry tomatoes: Grape tomatoes are a great substitution for cherry tomatoes.
- Mozzarella cheese: To make this recipe vegan, use a vegan mozarella “cheese”, or omit the cheese altogether, and use maple syrup or agave in the dressing.
More Healthy Salad Recipes:
- Citrus Arugula Salad
- Peanut Noodle Salad
- Pesto Pasta Salad with White Beans
- Watermelon Feta Salad
- Curry Chickpea Salad
Easy Italian Pasta Salad (Vegetarian)
For the Pasta Salad:
- 2 cups whole wheat penne cooked
- 2 cups canned chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chopped orange bell pepper can sub. red, yellow or green.
- 3/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup olives pitted and chopped
- arugula optional
For the Easy Italian Dressing:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons italian seasoning
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- In a large bowl, combine the penne and chickpeas. Add the bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, onion, olives, and cheese. Toss together to combine.
- To make the dressing, add all dressing ingredients to a mason jar. Screw on the lid and shake well for 30-60 seconds until well-incorporated.
- Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Optional: serve pasta salad over a bed of arugula or other leafy greens.
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