Fast and Easy Pasta Salad

This Easy Pasta Salad is full of flavor but super easy to make! Rotini pasta, broccoli, black olives, sweet peas and cubed cheese is tossed in store a bought Zesty Italian dressing that makes a tasty pasta salad perfect for picnics, potlucks, pool parties, BBQs and really any occasion!

A close up shot of Easy Pasta salad.

This pasta salad was a staple at family parties when I was growing up! It is easy to make, is full of delicious robust flavor, comes together in no time and is a light and fresh salad everyone will enjoy! We always double this salad to feed big crowds, but the recipe below still feeds plenty…about 6-7 cups!

The Pasta for this Pasta Salad

For this pasta salad, I use Rotini Pasta. Any pasta that is a bigger shape pasta will work. Penne, bow tie, cellentani/cavatappi are what I would use in place of rotini pasta.

Cooked rotini pasta for Italian Pasta Salad

I love the multicolored pasta to add some color to the salad. But I will use whatever I can find at the store. Sometimes the colored rotini isn’t easy to find.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, drain it and set it aside.

While I cook my pasta I prep the other ingredients.

Other Salad Ingredients

Cut up fresh broccoli. One to two large crowns of broccoli is usually enough. I cut mine up into smaller pieces but you can leave it as big as you like.

Crown of broccoli
Cut up broccoli

Sliced black olives are added. If you want bigger pieces of olives you can buy whole black olives and cut them in half. This way the olive is just a bit thicker than the thinner sliced olives. (This is what I did in the photo below)

Black olives cut in half

A baby of frozen sweet peas (make sure they are sweet peas) are also added. Make sure they are thawed before adding them to the salad.

Sweet peas in a pile.

I prefer frozen peas. Canned peas can be used but sometimes I think they can be a bit mushy. Use whichever you prefer.

What is a pasta salad without cheese? Diced/cubed cheddar cheese is added. Colby Jack or Mozzarella, or a combination of both will work too.

Cubed cheddar cheese

The Italian Dressing

The easiest part of making this salad is the dressing!

Store bought Zesty Italian salad dressing is what you will use for this Easy Pasta Salad. The Zesty Italian Dressing, is more robust than regular Italian Dressing and is perfect for the pasta and mix-ins.

Bottle of zesty Italian Dressing for Italian Pasta Salad

I use about 2/3 of the bottle of dressing to start. If you are not serving it right away you will want the extra dressing to add in later when you are ready to eat the salad. You will find the dressing tends to soak in after a little bit, so save some dressing to add in at serving or for leftovers.

Making and Serving the Easy Pasta Salad

When I say this salad is easy…it is EASY! Throw all the ingredients along with the cooked pasta in a bowl. Add the dressing and stir it in, making sure all of the ingredients are covered in dressing.

A close up shot of Easy Pasta salad.

This salad is perfect for your next BBQ, picnics, potlucks, family dinners, or just when you need a simple, light and delicious salad! It is great to serve on warm days/nights because it really doesn’t need to stay super cold like some salads do with creamy dressings and perishable ingredients.

This salad will keep really good in the fridge for about 5 days at the most. Just add more dressing as needed when serving.

Other Add-In Options

Here are some other options to mix in your salad: pepperoni, cucumbers, tomatoes, diced or cherry tomatoes, cooked, cut-up chicken breast, or green olives. The sky is the limit with this salad, so pick add ins that everyone will love!

Try my Easy Italian Pasta Salad that has a lot of these ingredients mentioned above.

A close up shot of Easy Pasta salad.

Try my Shrimp Salad, Italian Pasta Salad or Cucumber Pasta Salad.

Hope you enjoy!

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A close up shot of Easy Pasta salad.

Fast and Easy Pasta Salad

This salad is easy to make and is perfect for any occasion. It is light and fresh and can easily be adapted to your liking.
This salad makes about 6-7 cups
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Prep Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 lb. Rotini (Spiral Pasta), cooked and cooled *I love the multicolored pasta-see notes
  • 1 16 oz. bottle, Zesty Italian Dressing see notes
  • 1 6.5 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 12 oz. package, frozen Sweet Peas, thawed see notes
  • 1/2 lb. cheddar or colby jack cheese, cubed
  • 2-3 cups. fresh brocolli, cut up into small pieces as much or as little as you like


  • Mix up all the ingredients in a large bowl. I use about 3/4 of the bottle of dressing, but you can add more or less to taste.


Other options for pasta are penne, bow tie, or cavatappi/cellentani. 
I use Zesty Italian Dressing for the robust flavor.  I have found it is better tasting than straight Italian.  I use about 3/4 of the bottle and then save the rest of the bottle to mix in the salad later as needed (or the next day if I have leftovers).  The pasta tends to soak up the dressing, so save the extra dressing to mix in later.
I use cheddar or Colby jack cheese and cut it into smaller cubes (you can see in the photo).
I use frozen sweet peas.  I like the frozen better because they taste better in my opinion.  Make sure they are thawed before adding them to the salad.   I usually only use 1/2 the package, but you can use the entire package if you like peas.  Canned peas would work too, just make sure you drain them first before adding them to the salad.
Here are some other options to mix in your salad: pepperoni, salami, cucumbers, tomatoes (diced) or cherry tomatoes, cooked, cut-up chicken breast, green peppers, or green olives.
We double this salad for big family parties.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Pingback: Avocado Cream Sauce is perfect for salads, Mexican Dishes or as a dip.

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