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This Penne pasta salad is a quick and easy main dish or side that everyone will enjoy.

Fresh broccolini, parmesan, red onions, and tender penne pasta are tossed in a fresh, citrusy lemon pasta salad dressing.

It’s healthy, flavorful, and will be an instant hit with family and friends!

a bowl of penne pasta salad with broccoli and lemons

A Fresh Penne Pasta Salad

We add a fresh pasta salad recipe to almost every bbq (dill pickle pasta salad is definitely a favorite)!

  • This easy recipe makes a big bowl of pasta salad so it’s a perfect make-ahead meal or great to share at a potluck.
  • Make ahead of time to let the flavors blend together even more!
  • Serve it as a side dish or even as a main meal.
  • Add shredded chicken, diced ham, or bacon bits for a simple main-dish salad or top each serving with a hot grilled chicken breast!
penne, broccolini, parmesan , garlic , mustard and ingredients to make Penne Pasta Salad with labels

Ingredients & Variations

Pasta – Mini penne are sturdy noodles that hold up well with the other ingredients and the dressing can easily cling to. Other suitable pastas are bowtie, rotini, or medium-sized shells.

Veggies – Broccolini or broccoli can be used in this recipe. Broccolini has a milder flavor, smaller, delicate florets, and longer, thinner stalks.

Add other vegetables you love like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, or even bell peppers for color and crunch.

Cheese – Parmesan cheese adds a tangy and savory flavor to this salad. A combo of parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese, or feta cheese can be added.

Dressing – Lemon juice, olive oil, and Dijon mustard with a couple of garlic cloves make up the simple lemon dressing for this pasta salad. It is super fast and easy. Use a sugar-free substitute like Swerve in place of sugar if you’d like.

How to Make Penne Pasta Salad

This tangy pasta salad is so quick and easy to toss together.

  1. Cook pasta and broccolini according to the recipe below.
  2. Add dressing ingredients to a jar and shake well.
  3. Toss the penne, broccolini, fresh parsley, and cheese in a large bowl with the lemon dressing.
  4. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with extra cheese and lemon slices, if desired.
Lemon Broccolini Parmesan Pasta Salad in a bowl with a fork

Tips for a Perfect Pasta Salad

  • Use fresh lemon to get the best flavor. Microwave a few seconds first to be able to extract the most juice.
  • You may not need all of the cheese or dressing. However, because the dressing has fresh garlic in it, be sure to use it within 2 days.
  • For best results, leftover penne pasta salad in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Just before serving, add a bit of lemon juice or zest to brighten the flavors.
  • Mix with lettuce and fill a pita pocket or a wrap for an energizing workday lunch! Add in some kalamata olives, and fresh herbs like oregano, parsley, or basil.

More Pasta Salads Recipes You’ll Love

Did your guests love this Penne Pasta Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

a bowl of penne pasta salad with broccoli and lemons
5 from 7 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Penne Pasta Salad with Lemon Dressing

Penne Pasta Salad is packed with veggies, with quick fresh lemon dressing and lots of parmesan cheese.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8
Author Nagi
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  • 1 pound mini penne (or other pasta of choice)
  • 3 bunches broccolini
  • ¾ – 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • ¼ cup parsley or basil, finely chopped

Lemon Dressing

  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 clove garlic clove minced
  • salt and pepper


  • Trim ends then cut broccolini into 2.5” lengths.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
  • Add broccolini and cook for 1 ½ minutes. Take them out of the hot water using tongs and transfer to a colander. Run under cold tap water to stop them from cooking further.
  • Add pasta into the same pot of boiling water. Cook per package directions. Drain then rinse with water. Cool.
  • Place dressing ingredients in a jar. Shake well.
  • Place pasta in a very large bowl. Add broccolini, parsley, and parmesan cheese (start with ¾ cup, add more if you want). Drizzle with dressing and toss well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.


Adjust salt and pepper at the end because the parmesan adds plenty of flavor and salt.
Storage: Both the pasta and the dressing will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, just toss well and serve at room temperature. It may benefit from a fresh grating of lemon zest and squeeze of lemon juice.
5 from 7 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 449 | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 388mg | Potassium: 165mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1454IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 318mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Pasta, Salad
Cuisine American
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close up of Penne Pasta Salad with writing
Penne Pasta Salad in a bowl and close up with writing


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About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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