california pasta salad, zucchini, tomatoes, Italian dressing

California Pasta Salad

Cold pasta salad is one of those classic summer dishes and is perfect for a picnic or BBQ. I make a number of different types of pasta salads, but this California one is probably my favourite.

California pasta salad is full of fresh vegetables with a wonderful crunch of goodness in every bite. Tomatoes, zucchini, red onions, black olives and grated parmesan all come together to make a salad that has bright, fresh summer flavours!

I use bowtie noodles, but there are many different kinds of pasta that works great. Penne, rotini, or even spaghetti broken into small chunks works.

This is a salad that is quick to throw together and excellent to bring to a pot luck or family reunion.

california pasta salad, zucchini, tomatoes, Italian dressing

The vegetables should be in small, bite size chunks. Along with the diced zucchini, I slice the red onions into thin slivers. Cut the grape tomatoes in half. While red grape tomatoes is perfectly fine to use, I love to use the multicoloured variety. This adds to the already colourful presentation. Also, for the olives, I use sliced black olives.

california pasta salad, zucchini, tomatoes, Italian dressing

Summer salads are perfect for picnics and great to go alongside grilled chicken, burgers, steaks, ribs and so much more! Here are some other salads that go very well alongside this California Pasta Salad:

california pasta salad, zucchini, tomatoes, Italian dressing

This is also a great salad to make the day before. While green salads will wilt after a few hours, making this pasta salad the day before allows the raw vegetables to marinate in the Italian salad dressing.

If you are want to turn this dish into a complete meal, you can add some cubed grilled chicken breast or shrimp. I have also added sliced flank steak that was grilled. Wow, that was amazing.

california pasta salad, zucchini, tomatoes, Italian dressing

california pasta salad, zucchini, tomatoes, Italian dressing
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5 from 1 vote

California Pasta Salad

Cold summer pasta salad recipe with zucchini, tomatoes, red onion and black olives. Easy to make and perfect for picnics and great with grilled chicken, burgers, ribs and more!
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword pasta salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 401kcal
Author Steve Cylka


  • 1 pound pasta (bowtie, penne, etc.) dry
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 2 zucchini diced
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian dressing


  • Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and cool to room temperature.
  • Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.
  • Serve cold.


Calories: 401kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 853mg | Potassium: 418mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 11.4% | Vitamin C: 18.3% | Calcium: 14.5% | Iron: 7.4%

About Steve Cylka

Steve is the author of The Black Peppercorn. He is a recipe developer and food photographer. His recipes have been featured on websites like Bradley Smoker, Times Picayune, Buzzfeed, and Basil & Salt. He has also authored and co-authored a couple cookbooks.


  1. Love how easy this is and the bite size chunks of veggies…of course, I’m a red onion lover, too. So this salad is perfect!!

  2. Easy and love this perfect salad.

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