California Spaghetti Salad

A delicious spaghetti salad filled with fresh summer veggies and olives.  Topped with a zesty italian dressing and parmesan cheese, this will be the hit of your next gathering!  


It has been nothing but rain here in Utah for the past month!  It has been crazy.  I am grateful because we needed it but it is starting to get to be a little much.  I look forward to the summer time with the hot sun out, and barbecues!   The rain has put a damper on our summer barbecues.   But luckily it came out on Memorial Day.  Just so we could enjoy the day and have a family get together.

I made this spaghetti salad and it was amazing!


My favorite part of the spaghetti salad was all of the amazing veggies packed inside.  It added so much texture, flavor and color to the pasta.  And I especially loved the olives thought out.  I could eat olives on my fingers for days. 🙂

I love using spaghetti in a pasta salad.  It is amazing with all of the fresh veggies popping up throughout.

The zesty italian dressing on top is soooooooo good.  It is perfect finishing touch to this pasta salad.  It is easy to make and so incredible!  I know that this California Spaghetti Salad will be a huge hit wherever it goes!


4.3 from 27 reviews
California Spaghetti Salad
Prep time
Total time
A delicious spaghetti salad filled with fresh summer veggies and olives. Topped with a zesty italian dressing and parmesan cheese, this will be the hit of your next gathering!
Serves: 10-12
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cans (2-1/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 1 bottle (16 ounces) Italian salad dressing
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. Add cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, green and red bell pepper, red onion and olives in a large bowl.
  2. To make the dressing: Whisk together italian salad dressing, parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, paprika, celery seed, and garlic powder. Pour over salad and toss until coated. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

 Recipe adapted from Taste of Home



Subscribe to the Recipe Critic Blog and get family friendly recipes via e-mail.

Powered by ConvertKit

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

Latest posts by Alyssa Rivers (see all)

Previous Post

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

Next Post

No Bake Pistachio Cream Pie


  1. Awesome salad!!

  2. Kayren Evers says:

    I made this last night, let it set in the fridge overnight, I had it for lunch & it was so good. A light pasta salad with the fresh crunchy veggies. I also used whole wheat pasta, love it! Already have 3 friends sharing the recipe. Thank you for an awesome recipe!

  3. Bonnie Berry says:

    Love these recipes.



  5. How long does this keep for? Interested in making it to take for lunches for the week!

  6. Janice Miller says:

    I make one similar to this. but it does not have as many vegetables. Just has: spaghetti, green bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion. Dressing is: 16 oz Italian (I use Zesty Italian) and 1 bottle of McCormick’s Salad Supreme. Really good. I will have to try yours also.

    • Lisa Campanella says:

      I make Janice’s with tri-colored curly noodles, zucchini, mushrooms, tom, red onion, and bell pepper. Same dressing.

    • r. heidt says:

      I have made the same salad as you mentioned. It is our summer staple. I have used 3 colors of peppers and an entire bunch of celery. I use garden chives and also add some garden oregano. Yummy!
      Forgot to mention that I cut the thin spagetti to approximately 1 inch pieces (by breaking it between the thumb and first knuckle) and storing it until ready to make the salad. It taste better if the entire salad is stored in the fridge the night before and turned a couple of times. The old very large Tupperware bowl and lid makes a perfect fit.

    • Karla Meredith says:

      Hi Janice. Look at the back of your Salad Supreme bottle at ingredients. Nearly the same as added ones in Alyssa’s recipe 🙂 ( I also love a shake of that in my pasta salads)

      • I’ve been making the McCormick Salad Supreme pasta salad recipe for years. It’s nice to know what you can substitute in case you don’t have that particular spice available. Everyone always loves this salad.

    • Yours sounds good to. I make one similar. I put mushrooms, olives, bell pepper, red onion & broccoli. Then i to use the same dressing as you use.

  7. What about adding cilantro?

    • If you like cilantro you can definitely customize this to your taste. 🙂

    • Karla Meredith says:

      I added some pepperoni to mine. This is a very good recipe. My mom made one in the late 80’s about the same. cucumber, onion, tomato and Italian dressing. This is much better! I noticed the added ingredients of the sesame seeds, garlic, parmesan cheese and paprika are about the same ingredients in McCormick’s Salad Supreme. So glad I can make it “homemade”. My only complaint is I find it a bit salty. Might just be me. Wonderful recipe!

  8. Angela Rodgers says:

    The veggie possibilities are endless, the others I add additional to yours are

    I also add pepperoni either the small ones or cut the other ones in quarters

  9. I_Fortuna says:

    This is very good. I love the use of the celery seed which I have not tried before. Thanks! : )

  10. Hi, this recipe looks colourful, tasty and healthy☺ I love pasta so to eat more of it without feeling guilty and in a more healthy way is great! The only thing is I have always cooked zucchini and never eaten it raw…maybe I can slice it, saute it in some olive oil, salt and pepper and put in salad or I could substitute it with cucumber?

  11. I hate Italian dressing in anything. Can I use Miracle Whip or Mayo maybe? Anybody tried that? A lot of salads have Mayo in them.

  12. Hi, this salad looks great and so colorful too😊 I like red onion but it has a really strong aftertaste and I don’t want my breath tasting or smelling like onion. How can I make the onion less string before adding in the salad or what can I add to the salad to make it less strong? Thanks.

    • Alan Richards says:

      Soak the diced red onion in iced water for 5 to 10 minutes and then will not be as strong or have that aftertaste.

    • Onions are usually “strong” when they are older. You can take some of the sting out of them by soaking them in cold water for about 15 minutes or so before you add them to the salad. Also try shallots, scallions, or Vidalia onions instead.

    • I’d like to know how to tone down the red onion in salads too! I usually just mince them extra small and use less than called for. Would not leave it out altogether because the flavor is important to the overall dish 🙂 I might try making my own Italian dressing for this!

    • Pat Sarsuelo says:

      Use green onions (scallions) instead.

    • Susan Kozgus says:

      Also now that it’s summer you can get delicious Vidalia onions. Grown in South Georgia, these super sweet onions give you all of the healthy, delicious benefits of regular onions but they have a sweet, mild flavor. It’s said you can eat them like an apple they are so sweet. Look for Vidalias that are more flat (think ufo saucer shape) than round for best flavor. Enjoy!

    • Chop the onions, then soak in water for about ten minutes or while preparing the rest of the veggies. Drain and put in salad, they won’t be strong!

    • Susan Frank says:

      Soak the red onion in lemon juice. It is great for onions used in a salad.

    • Mar Boy says:

      Soak your thinly sliced onion, any onion, in milk for about an hour in the fridge.

    • Chives

    • Soak the onion in ice water after chopping and soak for 10-15 minutes. Drain and add to salad . Keeps the taste but eliminates the sting.

  13. Sheila Hall says:

    This is the second time I have made this salad. The first I left the noodles whole, the second I broke them up. Definitely better broken.
    I Love this salad. I did customize with yellow squash and no peppers. Still just as delicious!

  14. Becca Pritchett says:

    Do you have any nutrition analysis for the recipe AS you make it? Please post SOON! Thanks!! 🙂

    • DeDe Walton says:

      Nutritional Facts
      3/4 cup: 257 calories, 13g fat (2g saturated fat), 1mg cholesterol, 567mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 6g protein.

      Not really all that healthy with the pasta and dressing.

  15. Lorraine S says:

    What brand of Italian dressing do you use?

  16. How is this California? California typically means avocado is in it which there is NONE. You might want to fix the name just sayin

  17. No…you had me right up to the Italian dressing. Boring. I’d try a small jar of oil-packed sundried tomatoes as a base, run through a blender with either raw garlic or roasted garlic and whipped with Balsamic, fresh basil and oregano, Parmesan, and chili flakes. Dash of sea salt and toss. Or avocado puree with sea salt, EVO, cumin, sesame oil, and lemon zest. Any recipe that includes Italian dressing from a bottle strikes me as laziness.

    • You can defiantly make your own. But sometimes I am SO busy in the summer that it is nice to throw something together really quick! Most of my dressings on my site are homemade but this one comes together quickly and it delicious.

    • Realllly??

  18. Any idea how many calories?

  19. I’m on a low carb program per my doctor. What are the nutritional values of this salad. Especially carbs.

  20. How many calories per serving? Going to try it!

    • My Fitness Pal is a great tool to help you find that out! I use it all of the time. 🙂

      • Michelle says:

        I used MyFitnessPal to get the calories, which is 328 calories per serving, but what is the serving size? I know you said it makes 10-12 servings. I’m thinking the serving size is a cup?


  21. might be interesting to try this recipe using spaghetti squash ⁉ Comments

  22. Jack Wilson says:

    This is a wonderful summer salad. Do as Kayren Evers; leave in in the fridge overnight!
    I added a bit of decarboxylated cannabis.

  23. QueBarbara says:

    I make something similiar with tri-colored rotini. Very appealing visually.

  24. Do you think I could substitute quinoa for the pasta?

  25. I can’t wait to try this!
    I was all jazzed when I finished making this only only to be totally bummed when I read the last line…refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight, say what??? Lol…now we wait.

  26. Shirleen Holmes says:

    Looks delish, is it not too soggy soaked over night??

  27. Could I use a lemon viniagrette on thus I don’t like italian

  28. Do you have the nutritional info on this recipe?

  29. Amazing!!!!!

  30. Just made it and it tastes great even before marinating. I had about 3/4 bottle Zesty Italian and about 1/4 bottle roasted tomato dressing so I combined them and it is fabulous.

  31. Sandi A says:

    I’ve made this (or one VERY similar) before and added cooked and chilled shrimp to turn it into a complete meal. Brought it to a potluck and it was a big hit! Everybody loved it.

  32. Brenda Tibbs says:

    Awesome salad we love it!!!!

  33. Marilyn says:

    Can’t wait to try this with angel hair

  34. I love this salad! Am very interested in vegan recipes that contain protein. Salads are great but I need to find recipes with protein…..since my familly is slowly going in that direction.

  35. Hi, I was wondering if I could cook the vegetables first and add to the pasta?

    • Nope. You don’t need to cook them first. 🙂 Some will make it a few hours before to let the veggies soften in the dressing a bit.

  36. I made this and it was gone in two days! Absolutely amazing. The spices and flavors mingle together and make for an amazing salad. I added cooked shrimp as well, to add protein, and it was even better!

  37. Is that grated cheese that I see topping the salad in the picture?

  38. This looks amazing – however, trying to do low carb so wondering if cooked spaghetti squash could be a substitute for he pasta??

  39. Has anyone tried this with feta cheese instead of parm or both?

  40. I was wondering if I could swap Yellow Peppers for the Green?

  41. Mar Boy says:

    I would NOT use a bottled dressing. Fresh vegetables and bottled dressing – complete opposites.

    • Yes. Why not make the dressing from scratch? And I’d have to substitute the onions as raw, especially red onions, do not agree with me. Maybe I’ll use chives. Any suggestions? After I try the recipe, I will rate it.

  42. What are your thoughts about using spaghetti squash instead of regular spaghetti? Thanks!

  43. What are your thoughts about using Spaghetti Squash instead of regular spaghetti? Thanks!

  44. Can I make this a couple days ahead?

  45. Your sister says:

    What makes it California? Some things from cali aren’t always good, I prefer local. Really a basic recipe that anyone can modify with whatever ingredients and salad dressings they want. I can’t believe some people asked if they could add this or that, or don’t know how to add vegan protein. Hope you don’t get paid for this crap.

  46. Maggie Fisher says:

    This recipe sounds wonderful and all the good stuff in it, must try to make this before summer is gone. My only change would be for using another type of more sturdy pasta for my taste, cant envision “sketti” in this, would try fusilli or more sturdy pasta and use whole grain which I believe would bring pasta more to forefront, just my tastes, not for everyone……love the dressing too…

  47. Nancy Wright says:

    Love the salad but next time I’m only going to use half of the dressing too oily for me. But still very good!

  48. Would fresh parm work instead of the powder stuff?

  49. Hi I’m about to prepare this salad for a picnic tomorrow can anyone get back to me and let me know if you should the Cucumber or not.

  50. Elizabeth says:

    Made this last night and added grilled chicken. It was so yummy!

  51. I made it using small shell pasta, adding fresh parsley, mint and basil from the garden and some cooked shrimp. I added Salad Supreme, some salt and pepper. Used just a little of the Italian Dressing. Sprinkled grated parmesan over each serving. To die for !!!!

  52. Love it! Absolutely delicious 😀

  53. This salad has always been a hit. Love this salad. But notice some put crab meat or lil salad shrimp in theres. Going to go that way next time I make it.

  54. How’s to make Italian dressing

  55. Patricia says:

    This salad looks good. Thing is I don’t like raw onion and really don’t care for bell peppers. Do you really have to use them?

  56. Jane S. says:

    Any suggestions for a substitution for the parmesan cheese? Some in the
    family do not like it!

    • Sometimes you can leave it out.
      This is what I found when I searching:
      Asiago is another of Italy’s great dry cheeses. It is a bit sweeter than Parmesan and most brands aren’t quite as hard in texture. It is a widely used substitute for Parmesan in pasta dishes and on pizzas, providing good flavor.
      Hope that helps!! Xo

Speak Your Mind


Rate this recipe: