Poppy Seed Pasta Salad

This poppy seed pasta salad is the perfect picnic side dish. Loaded with veggies, feta cheese and homemade poppy seed dressing.

Table of Contents
  1. About Poppy Seed Pasta Salad:
  2. What vegetables are good in pasta salad?
  3. Homemade Poppy Seed Dressing
  4. How to Make Poppy Seed Pasta Salad
  5. Can I make pasta salad in advance?
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Poppy Seed Pasta Salad Recipe
  8. Other Favorite Salad Recipes

You’re invited to a summer picnic and need to bring a side dish. Traditional Italian pasta salad is always a good idea, but you’re feeling like a little change and need something just slightly different.

This pasta salad is for you! It’s loaded with pasta, carrots, cucumber, broccoli and cherry tomatoes, then topped with feta and drizzled with a homemade poppy seed dressing. This is the recipe to add to your picnic checklist this summer!

overhead view of poppy seed pasta salad in a bowl

About Poppy Seed Pasta Salad:

  • Flavor: This salad has a mild flavor with just a hint of tangy and sweet. For a stronger tang, you can add more apple cider vinegar and lower the oil. Most of the flavor comes from the dressing, and I think you’ll find yourself drizzling the dressing over salads as well.
  • Texture: Pasta salads are full of texture. The pasta is tender, but the vegetables are crisp and crunchy. Add a creamy cheese and you’ve got all the best textures in one.

What vegetables are good in pasta salad?

For this specific recipe, I was specifically thinking of adding color rather than flavor with the vegetables. I chose carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and broccoli to give a good color palate and make it look appetizing to eat.

chopped vegetables on a cutting board

Homemade Poppy Seed Dressing

There are two types of poppy seed dressing. One has a base of oil & vinegar and the other is creamy. To make a creamy poppy seed dressing, simply whisk in a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise.

You can use either for this recipe, but we prefer the oil & vinegar base. And you can mix it in a cute shaker jar.

How to Make Poppy Seed Pasta Salad

  • Boil and cook pasta according to package directions, then drain pasta and rinse with cold water. I used gemelli pasta, but use any shape you’d like.
gemelli pasta in a bowl
  • Place the pasta in a large bowl. Add the chopped vegetables and feta cheese to the cooled pasta.
overhead view of vegetables and feta cheese in a bowl
  • In a bowl or shaker jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well. Pour over the pasta salad. Mix to combine.
poppy seed dressing pouring over salad in a bowl
  • Refrigerate until serving. (If you want the salad really cold, refrigerate for 2 hours. Pour the dressing over the top right before serving.)
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Can I make pasta salad in advance?

You can make the pasta salad in advance, but I recommend adding the dressing right before serving. You can make up the dressing in advance so the flavors have time to blend.

about tastes of lizzy t

What main dish goes well with poppy seed pasta salad?

If you’re looking a main dish recipe to go with this pasta side dish, try one of these:

a plate of chicken, pasta salad and beans with a fork

Recipe Variations

  • For extra crunch, try adding walnuts, pecans or crunchy almonds.
  • Add rotisserie chicken or grilled chicken for a chicken pasta salad.
  • Many people have asked about putting fruit in poppy seed pasta salad. Try red grapes, mandarin oranges or dried cranberries.
  • Replace the granulated sugar with honey.
pasta salad with poppy seed dressing and vegetables in a bowl
pasta salad with poppy seed dressing and vegetables in a bowl

Poppy Seed Pasta Salad

4.67 from 6 votes
This poppy seed pasta salad is the perfect picnic side dish. Loaded with veggies, feta cheese and homemade poppy seed dressing.
Servings 8
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours

Ingredients
 

For the salad:

  • 16 ounces gemelli pasta
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup feta cheese

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mild olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Place the pasta in a large bowl. Add the chopped vegetables and feta cheese to the cooled pasta.
  • In a bowl or shaker jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well. Pour over the pasta salad. Mix to combine.
  • Refrigerate until serving. (If you want the salad really cold, refrigerate for 2 hours. Pour the dressing over the top right before serving.)
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Notes

Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 8, with 1 serving being ⅛ of the salad. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 424kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 381mg | Potassium: 330mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3053IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 142mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 424
Keyword easy pasta salad, picnic salad

Other Favorite Salad Recipes

Salads are some of our favorite recipes to make! Whether they are loaded with meat, potatoes, veggies or a combination of all three, you’re sure to find a new one to love.

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Charlie Mason
1 month ago

5 stars
Delicious. Family loved it