One of the biggest challenges to eating healthfully, at least for me, is finding ways to incorporate vegetables into meals without getting stuck with a side plate of raw carrots and dip every night. This pasta salad has the benefit of a TON–well, not literally, but a lot–of vegetables combined with flavorful Italian dressing and feta cheese. Plus, you can easily get this done in less than a half an hour if you cut the veggies while the pasta is cooking. Oh, and did I mention this recipe is also only 5 ingredients? Score! I call this “confetti” pasta salad because of all of the brightly colored vegetable tidbits, but I could just as easily call it that because it makes we want to throw a party and shout “hurray!”
While you can substitute white cheddar cheese, or I guess any cheese you want, for feta in this recipe, I advise you not to. The feta cheese is the perfect consistency and give just the right amount of pungent cheesiness to this dish without over powering it. Once it combines with the Italian dressing, it also forms a sort of creamy dressing that really can’t be beat. In fact, I think this salad tastes even better the next day after all of the vegetables and pasta have had some time to marinate. I am pregnant right now, so I have to avoid the feta cheese. Words cannot describe how I miss eating this with the feta, but I do have a photo for you of the version I made for myself with the alternate cheese.
Prep Time: About 15-20 minutes to clean and chop the cucumber, peppers, and cheese
Cook Time: 15 minutes to cook the pasta
- 8 oz. penne rigate pasta
- 1 cucumber
- 1 each of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers
- 1 cup bottled Italian dressing
- 8 oz. feta cheese, cubed (you can substitute 8 oz. of white cheddar)
First, put a pot of lightly salted water on the stove to boil. Once it’s boiling, add your pasta. While the pasta cooks, clean and chop the vegetables into large uniform chunks, about 3/4 to an inch long and 1/2-inch wide. You should end up without about 5 cups of vegetables.
Once the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and add it to a large bowl with the vegetables.
Chop the feta cheese into pieces about half the size of the vegetables or just crumble and add to the bowl. Add the Italian dressing and use a spoon or spatula to coat evenly.
Refrigerate and serve cold. This will last in the refrigerator several days or until the cucumber start to get too soft. I advise using cucumbers that are very firm. Add more Italian dressing to coat as needed. The vegetables will soak it up over time.