Fall pasta salad is an easy and flavorful side dish to serve at your next fall gathering. Seasonal ingredients like broccoli, pecans, and cranberries are tossed with pasta in a flavorful homemade vinaigrette and served cold.
Broccoli, carrots, pecans, and cranberries are all in season during autumn in the US. Using these seasonal ingredients can turn a classic pasta salad into a perfectly fall-themed side dish.
This pasta salad is also vegan! A great side dish to please all your guests.
Making your own homemade vinaigrette adds tons of flavor. Plus, it's easy to make from scratch!
Fall pasta salad is perfect for serving at your next fall gathering. Halloween, Thanksgiving, tailgating parties, or for your next fall barbecue.
Ingredients and substitutions
Rotini can be substituted with any medium sized pasta. Macaroni, shells, or bow tie/farfalle pasta are all great choices.
Pecans can be substituted with walnuts.
Maple syrup can be substituted with honey. Keep in mind that this dish will no longer be vegan if honey is substituted.
Dijon mustard can be substituted with any mustard you have on hand - yellow mustard, whole grain mustard, or spicy brown mustard will all work.
Apple cider vinegar can be substituted with red wine vinegar.
Italian seasoning (which I forgot to add to the photo above!) can be homemade or store bought. Or, use equal amounts of any dried Italian herbs you have on hand, like oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, and basil.
Pasta salad is best served within a few hours of preparing. Why? As your pasta salad sits, it will continue to soak up the vinaigrette dressing. Over time, your pasta salad will begin to dry out.
If you'd like to prepare your pasta salad a day beforehand, I recommend keeping your salad ingredients and dressing ingredients separate. About an hour before serving, add your dressing and toss to coat.
Pasta salad getting dry? Add a splash of olive oil and vinegar to your salad, then toss to coat.
What to serve with pasta salad
This pasta salad can be served with just about any main course. Fall pasta salad pairs particularly well with pork, like ham, pork chops, pulled pork, or ribs.
Fall Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces rotini pasta uncooked
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 small red onion diced
- 2 carrots grated
- 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is room temperature. Place pasta in a large bowl.
- Add pecans, cranberries, onion, carrot, and broccoli to pasta and toss to combine. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Pour over salad ingredients and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Pasta salad will keep for 2-3 days, refrigerated in a sealed container. Pasta WILL continue to soak up the dressing the longer it sits, so it may need a splash of olive oil and vinegar if it has been sitting for several hours.
- To prepare a day ahead: Store your salad ingredients and dressing ingredients separately. An hour before serving, add your dressing and toss to coat.
- Pasta salad getting dry? Add a splash of olive oil and vinegar to your salad, then toss to coat. Pasta will continue soaking up dressing as it sets, and is best served within a few hours.
- Maple syrup can be substituted with honey (recipe is no longer vegan using honey).
- Pecans can be substituted with walnuts.
- Apple cider vinegar can be substituted with red wine vinegar.