Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cold Vermicelli Spaghetti Salad

A cold spaghetti salad, made with angel hair, vermicelli or thin spaghetti, Italian dressing, fresh tomatoes and a variety of add-ins.
A cold spaghetti salad, made with angel hair, vermicelli or thin spaghetti, Italian dressing, fresh tomatoes and a variety of add-ins.

Cold Vermicelli Spaghetti Salad

Many of my blogging colleagues are all abuzz about fall recipes right now - every form of apple and pumpkin and oatmeal, caramel and maple syrup, soups and stews and chili, casseroles, butternut and acorn squash recipes are all already starting to appear. I've been blogging since 2008, and it begins every year right about mid-August, but... as I write this, it is 105 degrees on the heat index down here in mid-afternoon and, well, I just ain't ready for that yet y'all!

If you live anywhere near the coastal South you know that a heat index number is just as critical a piece of weather information as the actual temperature. The heat index factors in the current humidity level and what the temperature actually feels like, and unless you've been here and experienced it firsthand, well, let's just say there is no humidity that compares. I hear visitors here who thought they knew what humid felt like, say that all the time!

Yes, at least we do benefit from being right on the Gulf of Mexico, and on occasion we get a little sea breeze, even away from the front beach, but ask me just how a breath of hot air feels blowing across your face?! Imagine, thick, hot air suffocating you with a forced air heater blowing right on you. Not cooling at all.

So, today, I bring you a pasta salad recipe and one that I truly enjoy for its simplicity. The base recipe is good ole Italian dressing or a blend of olive oil and vinegar poured over a bed of cooked spaghetti noodles and tossed with fresh tomatoes, and that's how I make it most often. Simple.

Like any pasta salad, from there you can go crazy with customizing it as your own. Typical add-ins are cooked, chopped bacon, finely minced celery, bell peppers and sliced green onion, though it's nice with black or green olives too. Add whatever you like. I've left a few suggestions down in the recipe.

There's nothing much to this salad, but it sure is good. Here's how to make.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add plenty of salt. Break pasta into thirds and boil to al dente according to the package directions. Drain and place into a storage bowl. Toss with the dressing.

Add the chopped tomato and any additional add-ins you like. Toss in the seasonings - all purpose seasoning such as Lawry's or Cavenders, black pepper, Cajun seasoning if you like and some basil and parsley. Use fresh herbs if you have them in the garden.

Toss it all together, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Toss with Parmesan cheese just before serving if you like.

Recipe: Cold Vermicelli Spaghetti Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min
Total time: 20 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 (12 ounce) package of angel hair, vermicelli or thin spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup of homemade or commercial Italian dressing
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon of all purpose seasoning, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun or Creole seasoning, or to taste, optional
  • Dash of dried red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • Add-ins: Finely minced red, yellow or sweet onion, celery, sweet red, yellow or green bell pepper, jalapeno or other hot peppers, chopped pimentos, green onion, garlic, seeded, diced cucumber, diced summer squash or zucchini, sliced black, green or cocktail olives.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Break pasta into thirds and boil to al dente according to the package directions. Drain and place into a storage bowl. Toss with the dressing. Add the chopped tomato, seasonings and any additional add-ins you like. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed; toss with Parmesan cheese just before serving.

Cook's Notes: I use Cavender's Greek seasoning or Lawry's seasoning salt. Chopped cooked chicken breast, shrimp and/or cooked, chopped bacon may be added. I prefer my salad without mayonnaise, though some folks do add some to this salad.

Italian Style: Add in 1/2 pound total of one or more Italian cured and cooked meats such as salami, capicola, pancetta, prosciutto cotto and/or pepperoni, 1/2 cup mozzarella pearls, 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers and 1/2 cup of olive salad or 1 cup of mixed, pitted olives and a small (4 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts.

California Style: Prepare as above, adding in a 12-ounce bag of fresh cut (raw) broccoli and cauliflower florets with sliced carrots, blanched, and chopped zucchini and yellow squash.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on September 5, 2013
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  1. Yum, yum!! This recipe is so delicious, so simple and so versatile! I have also made this with fresh salsa fresca and hubs gobbled it up. Gotta love food that your hubby likes.
    Thank you!

    1. Indeed! My poor husband had been feeling a little left out here lately with summer veggies and things like this pasta salad, all foods that he's not so fond of, silly man!!

  2. You are right about September being hot when living near the Gulf. I recall my years there. I often had decent electric bills in June-August, but by September, the bill went way up because I was so tired of the heat that I didn't care anymore. I think I will eat spaghetti for lunch today, using your recipe and a bit of garlic and olive oil to season the spaghetti first. I can eat it hot, then eat it cold later tonight alongside grilled chicken.

    1. Oh my word Laurie, it's been SO hot the past week or two. THIS is our summertime for sure. Let's just pray there are no hurricanes this year!

  3. I make this same basic recipe but use rotini spiral pasta and add a cooked bag of frozen cauliflower/ broccoli/ carrots, and a can of drained pickled artichoke hearts. The parmesan cheese is a must. This salad disappears at pot lucks!

    1. Yum Karin! I love that combination for a pasta salad - bet the pickled artichoke hearts really make that.

  4. Yeah, I don't follow the "food blogger calender" either, I just did a whole turkey last weekend instead of November.

    I like cold pasta salads. You would like one my mom does that has shredded carrot, tuna fish, celery, and a few other things. I hate tuna but LOVE that salad.

    1. I love the smell of a turkey roasting ANY time of the year. I'm guess your's was on the Green Egg though. :)

      Yes I would love that salad for sure Chris!

  5. Oh yes ma'am we love this pasta salad. I find we like it better with the zesty Italian dressing and McCormicks brand Salad Supreme seasoning. Chop up some yellow, red, orange, green bell peppers, black olives, diced raw purple onions (just a little bit) added some zucchini ribbons, grilled shrimp or chicken whole meal ready in no time. Wonderful flavors always a crowd pleaser, so versatile you can put nearly anything you want in this and it will be good.

    1. I wanted to post the bare bones version & leave the additions to each individual though I also like the zesty version of dressing as well. Thanks for the suggestions Tracey!

  6. How do you pick up the add ins when you twirl the spaghetti? All you are going to get is spaghetti. Looks great but how do you eat it?

    1. Hi Jeff! Well... I suggest breaking the pasta into thirds which makes it smaller and much easier to eat with whatever add-ins you use, so you're not "twirling" the noodles so much as you are scooping them I guess? :)

    2. I just made it with macaroni instead and used the scoop method. Visually perhaps it was less stimulating but I bet the taste was the same.

    3. The vermicelli spaghetti noodles have always been traditional in this form of pasta salad, but you're right - I'm sure that the taste was the same!

  7. Have you ever made this with canned tomatoes?

    1. I usually make this spaghetti salad in the summer when fresh tomatoes are abundant - it just has a fresher taste - but yes, canned tomatoes can certainly stand in. Just be sure to drain off most of the excess liquid as it will be too watery otherwise.

    2. Ok, thanks!


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