Of course it is most delicious to make your pasta salad dressing from scratch, but that requires remembering (or having pasta salad sound good!) a minimum of a few hours before you want to eat it. Otherwise, you dressing flavors haven’t blended and it just isn’t good. This uses a store-bought dressing for the base, avoiding the sit-time requirement, but we do dress it up a little. I have found that just using store dressing strait doesn’t have much actual flavor any more than a hastily-mixed one does :-).

All that said, my two-year-old won’t touch this, but my husband thinks it is amazingly delicious and ate four servings at dinner. The two-year-old watched me make it and tried to convince me to leave “nakey noodles” because clearly all the things I’d just mixed and chopped DID NOT belong on “pasta-noodles”! Nonetheless, Mommy made it and the grownups liked it. So, enjoy at your own risk; if you’re a grownup you’ll probably like it, if you’re a toddler, probably not.

The dressing I use is a Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette. Interestingly, I haven’t found too much variation between brands on this one (there’s a little, of course). My particular bottle at the moment is the Fred Meyer house brand (same as Kroger). I know Kraft brand is pretty much identical as well. It is important to get a sun dried tomato one, though, as we want the tomato flavor in this and this is the best way to get it (chopped tomatoes in pasta salad get soggy and gross fast, and cherry tomatoes just don’t quite work texturally).

Shortcut Pasta Salad

Shortcut (Easy) Pasta Salad


  • 8 oz. rotini (I use a multi-grain type called Barilla Plus, but standard wheat or colored would work)
  • 1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, chopped


1. Put the water on to boil. Then mix together the vinaigrette, basil, onion powder, and lemon juice. Whisk well and set aside.

2. Boil pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse, if you’re in a hurry, or let cool if you’re not. Let get all the way cooled.

3. Thaw the peas, chop the red pepper and grate the carrot while the pasta boils.

4. Once pasta is cooled, however you got there, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Chill until serving. It’s best served the day it’s made, but completely chilled. Of course, it is pretty good eaten immediately too! Enjoy!