Kid-Friendly Veggie Pasta Salad

For my new job, I am building a lunch program for a progressive private school, with classes ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade. I’m trying to create a lunch menu filled with familiar items and foods the students will love, but doing my best to use minimally processed ingredients while remaining within our budget.

This recipe was taste tested by 19 children, and somehow only one of them picked out the tomatoes. I was shocked when I saw how many happily chowed down on their pasta salad samples and asked for more! I kept this recipe simple so the flavors are mild and the freshness shines.

We told the children to give a thumbs up if they liked it, two thumbs up if they loved it, and to wiggle their fingers in the air if they couldn’t get enough of it. Wiggly fingers all around!

Feel free to use different flavor/veggie combinations.

Want a Greek pasta salad? Use Greek dressing and feta cheese instead of Italian dressing and Parmesan.

Want to add a spicy kick? Throw in some red pepper flakes!

Want to keep it vegan? Leave out the cheese and add some sunflower seeds for healthy fats and a yummy crunch.

Play around with it, using what you have or are craving. You won’t be disappointed.


Veggie Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print



2 cups cooked + cooled pasta (see notes)
1 cup diced zucchini (raw)
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 TB Italian dressing
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Combine pasta, zucchini, and tomatoes in a medium-sized bowl, and mix to evenly distribute veggies throughout pasta.
  2. Drizzle on dressing, and sprinkle on salt, pepper, and cheese. Mix well to combine and evenly coat veggies + pasta.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend, up to overnight.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

-I recommend using macaroni or penne, and feel free to use gluten free pasta here! If you use gluten free pasta, after the pasta has been cooked, drained, and rinsed with cold water, toss with 1/2 tsp olive oil so that it does not stick together.
-This will last up to 5 days in the fridge. I do not recommend freezing.

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