Quick Easy Pasta Salad

5 from 2 votes
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Pasta salad with a rich, creamy, and zesty ranch and dill flavor – with fresh vegetables and lots of botwie pasta – the perfect easy side that even picky eaters love!

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Simple Zesty Pasta Salad

This decedent indulgent creamy pasta salad is super rich and packed with fresh vegetables for flavor and texture.

I frequently have bowtie pasta around and this pasta salad is a very budget friendly lunch or dinner when topped with some grilled chicken or chickpeas.

If you look at the ingredient list and don’t have some of the vegetables feel free to substitute or leave one vegetable out and double up on another one that you like better.

It is important to maintain a variety of vegetables for a colorful, healthy, and hearty pasta salad – but you can change up what you use for the perfect flavor!

How to Make the Best Pasta Salad

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Bowtie noodles (16 oz) – Bowtie noodles add a fun and visually appealing shape to the pasta salad while providing a perfect base for the creamy dressing.
  • Mayonnaise (1-2 cups) – Mayo creates a rich and creamy texture that binds all the ingredients together in the pasta salad.
  • Snap peas (1/3 cup) – Snap peas bring a crisp and refreshing crunch to the pasta salad, adding a pop of vibrant green color.
  • Carrots (1/3 cup) – Carrots contribute a sweet and crunchy element, enhancing both the texture and flavor of the pasta salad.
  • Broccoli (1/3 cup) – Broccoli adds a wonderful crunch to the pasta salad
  • Cauliflower (1/3 cup) – Cauliflower offers a subtle, earthy flavor and a satisfying crunch, balancing the creaminess of the salad.
  • Red bell peppers (1/3 cup) – Red bell peppers add a sweet and slightly tangy flavor, along with a bright red hue, to the pasta salad.
  • Black olives (1 can) – Black olives provide a salty and briny contrast, adding depth and complexity to the pasta salad.
  • Ranch seasoning (1 oz) – Ranch seasoning infuses the pasta salad with a blend of herbs and spices, enhancing its overall flavor profile.
  • Dill (1 tsp) – Dill adds a fresh, herbaceous note, giving the pasta salad a delightful and aromatic finish.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use this method:

  • Prep Veggies. Prep all ingredients 
  • Mix Dressing. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, adding mayonnaise to get the desired creaminess. 
  • Chill. Allow to chill for at least 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks for Creamy Bowtie Pasta Salad

Cook Pasta Al Dente: Ensure the bowtie pasta is cooked al dente to maintain a firm texture that holds up well in the salad.

Rinse with Cold Water: After cooking, rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool it down quickly.

Use Fresh Ingredients: Incorporate fresh, crisp vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and red onions for a vibrant and crunchy salad.

Balance Creaminess: Mix mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or sour cream to create a balanced creamy dressing that’s not too heavy.

Season Well: Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a touch of Dijon mustard or lemon juice to the dressing for enhanced flavor.

Chill Before Serving: Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.

Add Herbs: Fresh herbs like dill, parsley, or basil can add a burst of fresh flavor to the salad.

Incorporate Protein: For a heartier salad, add protein like grilled chicken, shrimp, or diced ham.

Avoid Overdressing: Start with a smaller amount of dressing and add more as needed to avoid making the salad too soggy.

Mix Just Before Serving: If preparing ahead, keep the dressing and pasta separate and mix them just before serving to maintain the salad’s freshness and texture.


How do I keep the pasta salad from becoming too soggy?

Ensure the pasta is cooked al dente and rinse it with cold water after cooking. Also, add the dressing gradually and mix just before serving.

Can I add protein to the pasta salad?

Yes, adding grilled chicken, shrimp, diced ham, or hard-boiled eggs can make the salad more filling and nutritious.

How should I store creamy bowtie pasta salad?

Store the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If possible, keep the dressing separate and mix it in just before serving.

Can I make the pasta salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the ingredients ahead of time, but for the best texture and flavor, mix the dressing and pasta just before serving.

How do I prevent the salad from drying out in the fridge?

Add a little extra dressing before storing and stir well before serving to keep the salad moist and flavorful.

What herbs can I use to enhance the flavor of the salad?

Fresh herbs like dill, parsley, basil, and chives can add a burst of fresh flavor to the pasta salad.

Is it possible to make a lighter version of the creamy dressing?

Yes, use a combination of light mayonnaise and Greek yogurt for a lower-calorie dressing that still offers a creamy texture.

Can I use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta?

Absolutely! Whole wheat or gluten-free bowtie pasta can be used as a healthier or dietary-specific alternative without compromising on taste.

What to Serve with Pasta Salad

Grilled Chicken: The savory and slightly charred flavor of grilled chicken complements the creamy, tangy pasta salad, providing a balanced and satisfying meal.

Garlic Bread: The crunchy texture and robust garlic flavor of garlic bread enhance the creamy and smooth pasta salad, making for a delicious contrast.

BBQ Ribs: The smoky and rich taste of BBQ ribs adds depth to the meal, while the creamy pasta salad serves as a refreshing and cooling side.

Grilled Vegetables: Fresh, slightly charred vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and asparagus provide a healthy and flavorful balance to the creamy pasta salad.

Fresh Fruit Salad: A light and refreshing fruit salad with seasonal fruits can cleanse the palate and add a touch of natural sweetness to the meal.

Steak: A perfectly cooked steak offers a hearty and rich flavor that pairs well with the creamy and tangy pasta salad.

Corn on the Cob: Sweet and buttery corn on the cob enhances the savory and creamy flavors of the pasta salad, creating a well-rounded meal.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches: The tender and smoky pulled pork contrasts nicely with the creamy pasta salad, adding layers of flavor and texture.

Baked Beans: The sweet and savory baked beans add a comforting and hearty side that pairs well with the creamy texture of the pasta salad.

Green Salad: A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette provides a fresh and crisp contrast to the rich and creamy pasta salad, making for a balanced meal.

Try these mains with your pasta salad:

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Glass bowl filled with a quick, easy pasta salad, featuring bowtie pasta, black olives, diced red bell peppers, broccoli, and a creamy dressing. The bowl is placed on a beige cloth with a spoon nearby.

Quick and Easy Pasta Salad

Bowtie creamy pasta salad is a delightful dish featuring tender bowtie pasta, crisp vegetables, and a rich, creamy dressing that brings all the flavors together perfectly.
Cuisine American
Keyword bowtie pasta salad, pasta salad, quick side dish, ranch dressing pasta salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 634kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell
Cost $8


  • 16 oz bowtie noodles boiled and ready
  • 1-2 cups mayonnaise
  • cup chopped snap peas
  • cup carrots
  • cup chopped broccoli
  • cup chopped cauliflower
  • cup red bell peppers
  • 1 can black olives drained and rinsed
  • 1 oz packet ranch seasoning
  • 1 tsp fresh dill optional


  • Prep all ingredients
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, adding mayonnaise to get the desired creaminess.
  • Allow to chill for at least 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Calories: 634kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 1.261mg | Potassium: 244mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1.728IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg

About Courtney

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5 from 2 votes

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Recipe Rating


  1. Katherine says:

    5 stars

  2. Katherine says:

    5 stars