Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad with Simple Vinaigrette

Refreshing Roasted Pepper Pasta salad with Caramelized onions makes for the best lunch or a side with some crusty bread. If you are planning Holiday lunch, make sure to include this on your menu. 

pasta salad with roasted pepper, caramelized onion, cucumber, cilantro and cheese

I am all about making fresh and hot meals for my family. But there are a few exceptions to this and one of them is Pasta Salad. I love to have these handy in the refrigerator, chilling and ready to feed the boys during one of their hunger marathons. I would rather have them eating the cold pasta salad loaded with vegetables instead of digging into the pantry looking for some sugary snack.

This week, I am exploring more into making pasta salads with different flavor combinations. Yesterday I made the Pasta salad with roasted corn and edamame and it was quite a filling after school snack. I also took the chance to use up ingredients from my pantry and made this Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad with jarred roasted peppers. I had bought the jar of roasted peppers sometime back for some recipe that I had in mind to create, but never got around making it. So I used that to make this delicious pasta salad and also made a simple vinaigrette dressing. 

I was looking for other ingredients to add to the roasted pepper pasta salad and caramelized onion is the first thing that came to my mind. We all love caramelized onion and especially my boys, who would just eat them as is. I also added a good handful of cilantro as the fresh herb and topped the salad with spicy pepper jack cheese. 

Roasted red pepper pasta salad with red wine vinaigrette

For me Pasta Salads are all about different flavors and textures, so let’s talk more about the ingredients – 

Pasta – 

Depending on what kind of salad I am making, I would choose the size and kind of pasta. I used small elbows for today’s recipe to make it easier for the boys to scoop up everything with a spoon. We can go a little larger size and use Penne or Rotini as well. Make sure that you chop the rest of the ingredients based on the size of the pasta.

Roasted Peppers – 

I used jarred roasted peppers for this recipe. It is really easy to roast peppers at home, but it is very convenient to have a jar (or two) in hand to make some quick recipes like this. Make sure you buy good quality roasted peppers for better flavor. 

Caramelized Onions – 

I love to add caramelized onions in any recipe. We all love the sweet flavor of caramelized onions, especially my boys. In this Pasta Salad recipe, the flavor of the caramelized onion along with roasted peppers and cilantro works really well. I used yellow onions and cooked it with some salt in my favorite cast iron skillet (got to love the cast iron for these).

Cucumber – 

Cucumber was almost a last minute add to the Pasta Salad. I wanted to add some ingredient to add crunch to the salad and was debating between almonds and walnuts. I skipped both the nuts and instead added fresh and crunchy cucumbers to the salad. 

Cheese – 

Add any kind of cheese or none in your salad. It is solely based on your preference. I used pepper jack cheese for some heat and also because my husband loves his cheese in the salad. My boys did not care much for the cheese, but my husband loved it. Got to meet the boys somewhere in the middle!

Cilantro – 

This ingredient is for me. I need some fresh herb in my salad and for today’s pasta salad recipe, I chose to go with cilantro. Cilantro is one of my favorite when it comes to fresh herb followed by basil. Add as little or as much as you like. There is no hard and fast rule of how much cilantro to add.

Vinaigrette – 

Yesterday I was talking about how I was using up my stash of salad dressings from the refrigerator. I was planning on doing the same today and use some dressing to pair with this Roasted pepper pasta salad, but decided that all it needed was a simple fresh vinaigrette. I used Red wine vinegar with some fresh lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper along with good quality olive oil to make this dressing. 

Roasted red pepper pasta salad with red wine vinaigrette

Preparation time – 5 minutes
Cooking time – 20 minutes
Difficulty level – Easy / Beginner

Ingredients to make Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad – Serves 4

For the salad – 

  • Elbow Pasta – 1 cup
  • Onion – 1 1/2 cups (thinly sliced)
  • Roasted Pepper – 8 oz (from a jar or 1 large red pepper roasted)
  • Cucumber – 1 small (cubed)
  • Cheese (I used pepper jack) – based on your liking
  • Cilantro – About 1/4 cup (chopped and tightly packed)
  • Oil – 1 TBSP 

To make the Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing – 

  • Red wine vinegar – 2 TBSP
  • Olive oil – 4 TBSP
  • lemon juice – 1 TBSP 
  • Garlic powder – 1/4 tsp or 1/2 tsp of freshly minced garlic
  • Salt – to taste
  • Pepper – to taste

Procedure to make Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad – 

To make the Vinaigrette dressing – 

  • Combine all the ingredients except oil in a small bowl and mix well to combine. Now whisk the mixture and drizzle in the olive oil to blend it. The dressing is now ready. Keep it aside until the pasta salad is ready. 

Red wine vinaigrette

To make the Pasta Salad – 

  • Cook the pasta according to the label instructions. Drain the cooked pasta and rinse it cold water to avoid further cooking. 
  • Meanwhile heat a cast iron or any heavy bottom skillet and add the oil to it. When the oil heats up, add the sliced onions and just enough salt for the onions. 

Caramelized onion

  • Mix well and let it cook / caramelize over low heat. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes for the onions to caramelize.
  • Let the onions cool a bit and in the meantime, chop and prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Chop the roasted pepper into bite size pieces and place it in a large bowl. 

Vegetables for pasta salad

  • Add the caramelized onions, cilantro, cooked pasta, cucumbers to the same bowl and combine. 
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix gently to evenly combine. 

Pasta salad mixed and ready to serve

  • Add the cheese if using and toss  and serve at room temperature or cold.

Pasta salad with roasted red pepper

Pasta salad with roasted red pepper
5 from 5 votes
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Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad with Simple Vinaigrette

Refreshing Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Peppers and Caramelized onions makes for the best lunch or a side with some crusty bread. If you are planning Holiday lunch, make sure to include this on your menu. 

Course Pasta, Salad
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword How to make pasta salad with caramelized onions, lunch pasta salad, pasta salad, Pasta salad with red wine vinaigrette, Roasted red pepper Pasta salad
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 Servings
Author Sandhya Ramakrishnan

Ingredients

For the salad -

  • Elbow Pasta - 1 cup
  • Onion - 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced
  • Roasted Pepper - 8 oz from a jar or 1 large red pepper roasted
  • Cucumber - 1 small cubed
  • Cheese I used pepper jack - based on your liking
  • Cilantro - About 1/4 cup chopped and tightly packed
  • Oil - 1 TBSP

To make the Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing -

  • Red wine vinegar - 2 TBSP
  • Olive oil - 4 TBSP
  • lemon juice - 1 TBSP
  • Garlic powder - 1/4 tsp or 1/2 tsp of freshly minced garlic
  • Salt - to taste
  • Pepper - to taste

Instructions

To make the Vinaigrette dressing -

  1. Combine all the ingredients except oil in a small bowl and mix well to combine. Now whisk the mixture and drizzle in the olive oil to blend it. The dressing is now ready. Keep it aside until the pasta salad is ready.

To make the Pasta Salad -

  1. Cook the pasta according to the label instructions. Drain the cooked pasta and rinse it cold water to avoid further cooking.
  2. Meanwhile heat a cast iron or any heavy bottom skillet and add the oil to it. When the oil heats up, add the sliced onions and just enough salt for the onions.
  3. Mix well and let it cook / caramelize over low heat. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes for the onions to caramelize.
  4. Let the onions cool a bit and in the meantime, chop and prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Chop the roasted pepper into bite size pieces and place it in a large bowl.
  6. Add the caramelized onions, cilantro, cooked pasta, cucumbers to the same bowl and combine.
  7. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix gently to evenly combine.
  8. Add the cheese if using and toss  and serve at room temperature or cold.

 
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12 thoughts on “Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad with Simple Vinaigrette

  1. Recipes like this one – where you can use up whatever you have in your pantry and still get a delicious meal in return, are great. Caramelized onions are a good addition in there.

  2. 5 stars
    I can see how easy it is to make this delicious pasta salad yet how sophisiticated the taste must be! Fantastic choice of ingredients and the perfect dish to include these holidays!

  3. 5 stars
    Everyone loves a pasta salad and they make such a great side dish year round! Love the additions to this one, and that you used a vinaigrette instead of a creamy dressing! Looks so good!

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