Cold Spaghetti Salad

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Cold spaghetti salad is a refreshing medley of al dente spaghetti, vibrant crisp veggies, and Parmesan cheese all tossed together in a tangy homemade Italian dressing. The perfect choice for a light weekday meal, or for picnics, potlucks and BBQs.

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Cold Spaghetti Salad in a clear bowl.

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👩🏻‍🍳 Why This Recipe’s a Keeper

  • Versatility: This recipe is incredibly versatile, allowing you to customize it with your favorite ingredients such as different vegetables, herbs, or proteins. You can easily adapt it to suit your preferences or whatever ingredients you have on hand.
  • Make-Ahead: Cold spaghetti salad can be made ahead of time, making it perfect for meal prep, picnics, potlucks, or any occasion where you need a dish that can be prepared in advance.
  • Refreshing: The combination of cold spaghetti and fresh vegetables makes this salad incredibly refreshing, especially during warmer months. It’s a great dish to serve on hot summer days when you want something light and cooling.
  • Crowd-Pleaser: With its vibrant colors, fresh flavors, and satisfying texture, cold spaghetti salad is sure to be a hit with both kids and adults alike. It’s a crowd-pleaser that everyone will enjoy.
Spaghetti Pasta Salad in a bowl with a fork.

🛒 Ingredients

  • Thin Spaghetti: Provides the base and bulk of the salad, offering a satisfying texture and serving as a canvas to absorb the flavors of the dressing and other ingredients.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Add a burst of sweetness and juicy texture to the salad, providing a refreshing contrast to the pasta and other vegetables. If desired, feel free to use grape tomatoes instead.
  • Zucchini: Offers a mild flavor and crunchy texture, contributing freshness and a subtle hint of earthiness to the salad. When you have an over-abundance of this veggie in the garden, adding some of this bounty to your cold spaghetti salad is a great way to use it.
  • Green Bell Pepper: Provides a crisp and slightly sweet flavor, along with a vibrant green color that enhances the visual appeal of the dish.
  • Red Onions: Add a sharp and tangy flavor to the salad, providing a bold contrast to the other ingredients and enhancing overall depth of flavor. They also provide this dish with a burst of color and delicious texture.
  • Fresh Parsley: Adds brightness and herbaceous notes to the salad, infusing it with fresh, garden-fresh aroma and flavor.
  • Black Olives: Offer a rich and briny flavor, along with a meaty texture that provides a satisfying bite to the salad.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese: Provides a nutty and savory flavor, adding richness and depth to the salad while also enhancing its creamy texture.
  • Homemade Italian Dressing: Serves as the vibrant, flavor-packed binder that ties all the ingredients together. It infuses the salad with tangy, herbaceous, and zesty notes that elevate its overall taste profile.
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper: Salt enhances the flavor of the other ingredients, while pepper adds an earthy, rustic taste and aroma. Season the salad to taste!
Ingredients for cold spaghetti salad.

🥣 Recipe Prep: Cook the Pasta

  1. Fill a pasta pot with water. Salt the water well – it should taste like the ocean. Cook the spaghetti al dente (firm to the bite) according to package instructions. Do not over cook the noodles or they can become mushy when mixed with the other ingredients.
  2. Drain the pasta in a colander, and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow the noodles to cool completely.

Expert Tip: To cool the pasta quickly, spread it in an even layer on a baking tray.

Thin spaghetti noodles laid out evenly on a baking tray to cool completely.

📖 Recipe Steps

  1. In a mason jar or wide cruet, prepare this 👉🏻 zesty Italian dressing.
  2. Add the cooked and cooled spaghetti to a large salad bowl. Drizzle the Italian dressing over the spaghetti, adding as much as you’d like. Toss well to coat the noodles evenly.
  3. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced red onion, bell pepper, and zucchini to the bowl. Toss everything together until well combined.
  4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. When ready to serve, mix in the grated Parmesan cheese. Do a taste test. If needed, add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Then sprinkle the top of the salad with fresh Italian parsley.
Pasta Salad in a serving bowl.

🧑🏼‍🍳 Recipe FAQ

Yes, you can use other types of pasta such as penne, fusilli, or rotini. However, spaghetti works well because its long shape allows the dressing to coat each strand evenly.

Rinsing the spaghetti under cold water after cooking stops the cooking process and helps prevent it from sticking together. It also cools down the pasta quickly, which is essential for a cold salad. However, if you prefer your pasta warmer, you can skip this step.

Absolutely! Feel free to add your favorite vegetables to the salad, such as broccoli or spinach, or cucumbers instead of zucchini. Just make sure to chop them into bite-sized pieces for easy eating.

Absolutely! You can use gluten-free spaghetti or any other gluten-free pasta variety to make this salad suitable for those with gluten intolerance or sensitivity.

Yes, you can easily make this salad vegan by omitting the optional crumbled feta cheese or using a vegan cheese alternative. Ensure that all other ingredients are vegan-friendly.

Cold spaghetti salad pairs well with grilled meats, seafood, or tofu. It also makes a great side dish for sandwiches, burgers, or wraps. Additionally, you can enjoy it on its own as a light and refreshing meal.

Cold spaghetti salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to give it a good toss before serving to redistribute the dressing and flavors.

Cold spaghetti salad in a serving bowl.

📝 Expert Tips

  • Cook the spaghetti al dente. We want to make sure it can maintain its texture and does not become limp when mixed with the dressing.
  • Don’t overdress the salad: Start by adding a little dressing to the spaghetti and toss well. Add more dressing gradually, tasting as you go, until the noodles are evenly coated but not swimming in dressing. This prevents the salad from becoming soggy and allows the flavors to shine through.
  • Add Parmesan cheese just before serving: This prevents the cheese from becoming soggy and ensures a fresh texture.
  • Customize the cold spaghetti salad to taste: Feel free to add your favorite ingredients such as different vegetables, herbs, or proteins – like chunks of Italian salami. Make this dish your own by experimenting with the flavors and textures that you enjoy.

🍽 More Tasty Pasta Salads

Rate This Recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review from a flavor tester: “This cold spaghetti salad with Italian dressing is an absolute triumph! The pasta is perfectly al dente, the vegetables are crisp and refreshing, and the homemade dressing ties everything together with a burst of zesty flavor.”

If you agree this recipe’s a keeper, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with friends. 📌 Pin it to Pinterest.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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Cold Spaghetti Salad

Cold Spaghetti Salad


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5 from 17 reviews

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Description

Cold spaghetti salad is a refreshing medley of al dente spaghetti, vibrant crisp veggies, and Parmesan cheese all tossed together in a tangy homemade Italian dressing. The perfect choice for a light weekday meal, or for picnics, potlucks and BBQs.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti
  • 1 (6-ounce) can black olives, sliced
  • 12 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped or minced
  • 1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade Italian dressing
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Recipe Prep: Cook the Noodles

  1. Fill a pasta pot with water. Salt the water well – it should taste like the ocean. Cook the spaghetti al dente (firm to the bite) according to package instructions. Do not over cook the noodles or they can become mushy when mixed with the other ingredients.
  2. Drain the pasta in a colander, and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow the noodles to cool completely.

Assemble the Cold Spaghetti Salad

  1. In a mason jar or wide cruet, prepare this 👉🏻 zesty Italian dressing.
  2. Add the cooked and cooled spaghetti to a large salad bowl. Drizzle the Italian dressing over the spaghetti, adding as much as you’d like. Toss well to coat the noodles evenly.
  3. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced red onion, bell pepper, and zucchini to the bowl. Toss everything together until well combined.
  4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. When ready to serve, mix in the grated Parmesan cheese. Do a taste test. If needed, add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Then sprinkle the top of the salad with fresh Italian parsley.

Notes

Don’t overdress the salad: Start by adding a little dressing to the spaghetti and toss well. Add more dressing gradually, tasting as you go, until the spaghetti is evenly coated but not swimming in dressing. This prevents the salad from becoming soggy and allows the flavors to shine through.

Customize to your taste: Feel free to customize the salad with your favorite ingredients such as different vegetables, herbs, or proteins (like salami). Make it your own by experimenting with the flavors and textures that you enjoy.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Lunch, Snack, Dinner, Potluck
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian, American
Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com
Spaghetti salad garnished with fresh parsley.

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29 Comments

  1. We tripled the recipe for my niece’s baby shower! (Having never tried it!). It was a hit! Had so many guests request the recipe!!!!! The only modification we made was adding a heaping spoonful of red pepper flakes, because that’s how the family rolls.
    Just made another batch for a side to our grilled chicken tonight!






    1. Lorri, you’ve just made my day! I’m so happy to hear that you and your family are enjoying this delicious recipe. Across the miles, I send sweet wishes to your niece and her baby.

  2. Hi, I wanted to look up a recipe and was sent to your site. When I came here, the site automatically subscribed me, and I have no idea how to unsubscribe. I get a message on my phone every time you upload something new. It’s very annoying.
    How do I undo this?

    1. Good morning Mathilda. Thank you so much for reaching out to me about this. Sites often invite their users/guests to receive automatic alerts when new content is published. This is through a little drop down invite at the top of the screen that will say “Allow” or “Block”. So each individual user controls the push notifications that they subscribe to, and which they unsubscribe to as well. Here is how to unsubscribe from notifications on this blog as well as on other sites: https://documentation.onesignal.com/docs/unsubscribe-from-notifications (cut and paste the link into your browser). Happy holidays to you and your family!

  3. This was the perfect spin on pasta salad for an outdoor BBQ I hosted last weekend! Thanks for the awesome recipe Denay!






    1. Thank you Luci. Youre so right, i bet this spaghetti would be better if you let it sit longer.

  4. This cold spaghetti salad looks delicious, the perfect meal for a hot summer day, will definitely have to try!

    ~xo Sheree






    1. Hello Kelly. You’re absolutely right! Spaghetti salad is a fantastic choice for lunch. I know you’ll love this delicious recipe!