This quick pasta salad will hardly take longer to make than a sandwich. Just add some fresh ingredients to leftover pasta plus a squeeze of lime and it's done. It's perfect to eat at home or out and about as a tasty packed lunch too.
This simple packed lunch pasta salad is really easy to make and can be made in less than 5 minutes in the morning if you have some leftover pasta. That makes it a great pasta salad for putting in packed lunches, picnics and even for just eating at home for an easy lunch.
Recently I've been trying to become more organised in the kitchen in order to save time when preparing meals. It also makes it easier for me to eat healthily throughout the day and not just in the evenings.
Before I had children I would regularly prepare filling packed lunch salads to take to work instead of sandwiches every day.
Tips for preparing easy packed lunch salads
Here are some of the ways I make life easier as far as packed lunches and easy lunches at home go:
- I wash and prepare fruit and vegetables soon after I buy them so they're ready to put in a lunchbox, eat or cook with very little extra effort. If I've got some clean celery and carrot sticks in the fridge I'm much more likely to eat them for a snack than I am if I've got to wash them first.
- To make sure a packed lunch salad is filling and balanced, not just 'healthy', try to include different food groups when putting it together. The four groups I think a great filling salad needs are: carbs(rice, pasta, grains, potatoes), protein (meats, nuts, seeds, cheese, beans, lentils) vegetables and dressing (olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, sesame oil, soy sauce).
- If you think you don't have much time in the morning but do have time for breakfast then you can even make this easy pasta salad while you're eating. I quite often multitask making lunch while eating breakfast.
I do believe that using these strategies really helps you get out of a lunch rut and avoid having sandwiches again!
So, what ingredients do you need for this packed lunch pasta recipe?
To make this simple lunchtime pasta dish you'll need:
- Pasta - I use leftover cooked pasta. If you don't have leftovers then just cook the pasta and run it under the cold tap in a colander to cool it down before mixing it into the salad.
- Salad vegetables - I've used hherry tomatoes, yellow pepper and avocado. Feel free to vary the ingredients a little to suit what you have in the fridge - that's the whole point of making an easy packed lunch salad!
- Chilli pepper - I love to add a diced chilli pepper as it adds some extra flavour and a bit of heat. However, feel free to miss it out if chillies are not your thing.
- Seeds - I've used sunflower seeds for this but pumpkin seeds would also be great. You could even add walnuts or hazelnuts.
- Olive oil - I like to use a good quality oil for this.
- Lime - I like to use fresh citrus juice as it's more zingy than bottled juice. Lemon juice also works well.
- Seasoning - Just a little salt and black pepper
How do you make this pasta salad?
You really don't need any instructions for this salad. Just mix everything together and eat it!
How can you adapt this recipe?
I would say that the quantities in this recipe are approximate. I think that for this type of quick pasta salad exact quantities are not important. Just add enough of each ingredients so it looks right to you. I have to say, after taking the pictures I decided I needed a lot more sunflower seeds so I sprinkled on another large handful.
You could also up the protein by adding a few kidney or cannellini beans. When I ate this the second time I crumbled in some cheese as well.
As you may know, I love spiced and this salad works really well with some diced chilli peppers or jalapenos added!
How to stop the pasta from sticking together?
If you just put leftover pasta into a container and leave it, it will stick together in a big clump. The best way to store leftover pasta is to stir some olive oil through it before storing it and this will help to stop it from sticking together.
How far in advance can you prep it?
This simple pasta salad can be prepped up to three days in advance. As long as it is kept refrigerated in an airtight container it will keep really well. So, you could prepare three packed lunch portions at the same time if you don't mind having the same for lunch every day!
Quick Pasta Salad
- 200 g Leftover cooked pasta
- 120 g Cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ Yellow pepper sliced
- 1 Avocado diced
- Green chilli pepper Diced (optional)
- 2 tablespoon Sunflower seeds roasted
- 2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Lime juiced
- ¼ teaspoon Black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- If you have time, put the sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan and toast them gently. It makes them more crunchy and nutty.
- Mix all the ingredients together.
More easy packed lunch salad recipes
This tuna and cannellini bean salad is another quick and easy lunchtime salad. Do also have a look at my recipe collection of easy main meal salads. You'll find lots more inspiration.
Keep in touch
Do let me know if you make this quick pasta salad or any of my other recipes. I love to get feedback from readers.
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Ah the things we had time to do before kids!! This pasta salad looks lovely. Thanks for adding to #CookBlogShare
Looks delicious! #TastyTuesdays
Eileen Teo (@etspeaksfrom)
Love the look of your salad. So delicious looking and healthy too!
I'm so pleased you like it!
Serena Ball MS, RD (@tspcurry)
Love this simple salad with whats on-hand!
Thank you Serena!
This looks so delicious, Corina. I think sometimes the simplest recipes are the best! Eb x
Thanks Eb x
Kristy from Southern In Law
Simple but delicious! This is such an awesome combination of flavours!
So pleased you like it! It's fairly classic but really tasty.