“Sweep the Kitchen” Pasta Salad

by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.86 from 7 votes
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Despite having a website is full of recipes, in real life at least half of my meals are “sweep the kitchen” or “throw together whatever you have” type meals. Even though they’re not exactly “recipes” I like to highlight them every now and then because they can be a great reminder of ways to use up leftovers, and they can be super helpful to newbies who are still learning their way around the kitchen. This “Sweep the Kitchen” Pasta Salad is nothing profound, but it’s a great demonstration of how fast, easy, and versatile pasta salads are, and just how awesome they are to have on hand for quick meals throughout the week.

A big bowl of Sweep the Kitchen Pasta Salad

I’ve been really under the weather the past few days but even *I* can make something this simple to stock my fridge for the week. So, when it doubt, throw together a pasta salad!

Pasta Salad Swaps and Add-ins

The idea of this “Sweep the Kitchen” Salad is that you can throw in just about anything you have laying around. Here are some ideas for other ingredients to swap or add-in to make your salad unique and delicious:

  • Proteins: diced or shredded chicken, pepperoni, deli meat, hard boiled egg, beans (chickpeas, cannellini beans, kidney beans), tempeh
  • Cheese: goat cheese, Parmesan (shredded or grated), blue cheese
  • Vegetables: roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, spinach, finely chopped kale, bell peppers, red onion, cauliflower (fresh or roasted)
  • Nuts: pepitas, sunflower seeds, cashews, pine nuts
  • Alternate Dressings: champagne vinaigrette, balsamic vinaigrette, Caesar (non-creamy variety), Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Meal Prep It

My favorite reason for making these pasta salads is that they hold up so well in the refrigerator. Even when I’ve added fresh baby spinach, they some how don’t get wilted. I love the broccoli in this version of the “Sweep the Kitchen” Pasta Salad because it’s crunchy but also sort of marinates in the dressing. It’s just fab. Want more refrigerator salads? Try my Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad, Italian Orzo Salad, Make Ahead Kale, White Bean, and Pesto Salad, or Spinach, Chickpea, and Quinoa Salad.

Side view of a bowl of Sweep the Kitchen Pasta Salad

So here is what I threw into my salad this week…

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"Sweep the Kitchen" Pasta Salad

4.86 from 7 votes
Throw together meals like this "Sweep the Kitchen" Pasta Salad are my favorite way to use up leftovers in the kitchen. Easy, versatile, and never boring! 
Overhead view of a bowl of "Sweep the Kitchen" Pasta Salad
Servings 3 to 6 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 20 minutes


  • 8 oz. pasta (any shape) ($0.50)
  • 1 broccoli crown (about 1/2 lb.) ($0.91)
  • 2.25 oz. can sliced olives ($1.50)
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes ($1.07)
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta ($1.00)
  • 1/3 cup Italian Dressing ($0.47)


  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain in a colander, then rinse briefly under cool water to bring the temperature down. Let the pasta drain well.
  • While the pasta is cooking, finely chop the broccoli, drain the olives, and roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes.
  • Once the pasta is well drained, add it to a large bowl along with the chopped broccoli, drained olives, chopped sun dried tomatoes, and crumbled feta. Pour the Italian dressing over top and stir until everything is combined and coated in dressing. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4-5 days.

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This recipe makes about 6 cups. 3 meal-sized portions or 6 side dish sized portions.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 511.47kcalCarbohydrates: 72.83gProtein: 16.93gFat: 19.43gSodium: 1029.43mgFiber: 8g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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How to Make a “Sweep the Kitchen” Pasta Salad – Step by Step Photos

Pasta Salad Ingredients in a bowl

Cook 8 oz. pasta (any shape) according to the package directions, then drain it in a colander, and rinse it briefly with cool water. Let the pasta drain well. While the pasta is cooking, finely chop one crown of broccoli (about 1/2 lb.), drain a 2.25oz. can of sliced olives, roughly chop about 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, and crumble 2 oz. feta. Once drained, add the pasta to a big bowl with the broccoli, olives, tomatoes, and feta.

Store Bought Salad Dressing

I used a store bought salad dressing this time. 🤪 I know that might shock some of you, but even I don’t make everything from scratch all the time (like on days like today when I’m sick). Plus, I haven’t found a homemade Italian dressing recipe that I absolutely LOVE yet. When I do opt for a bottled dressing, I usually stick to either Girard’s or Ken’s Steak House because they both tend to have pretty good flavor without being outrageously priced. 

Add Salad Dressing to Pasta Salad

Add about 1/3 cup salad dressing to the pasta salad ingredients…

Finished Sweep the Kitchen Pasta Salad

Stir until everything is combined and coated in dressing. And that’s it! Eat now or refrigerate for later. Pasta salads for the win!

What is your favorite pasta salad combo? I’d love to hear more ideas, so share yours in the comments below!

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  1. One other thing: quinoa!!! I added quinoa to my pasta salad this week and it was amazing. Made it more hearty, and the quinoa got tucked in the crevices of the rotini so it was in every bite without affecting the texture much.

  2. I love your add-in suggestions! I also like to add cucumber and cubed cheddar. My mom always spread the ingredients out on the table so we could build our own pasta salad to our taste. Plus the kids mostly didn’t love the dressing. :)

  3. I made it tonight and it was excellent. Added many of yours plus: a little chopped fennel, a few matchsticks of jicama. I think this is going to be a summer go-to meal.

  4. I do the broccoli in the pasta cooking water when the pasta close to being done and drain all together

  5. I just made your sheet pan Greek chicken and vegetables, and think leftovers from that would be perfect for pasta salad! Another batch of the marinade would work as dressing, or bottled champagne vinaigrette or Greek dressing (Girard makes one) if I didn’t want to make some.

  6. I did not make this recipe but did use the concept as a base. I used pasta made with chickpeas, some leftover pesto, sliced grape tomatoes, pieces of lightly seasoned chicken, and a sprinkling of parmesan. Put it in the fridge to chill and have lunch now for a few days.

  7. Made a version of this for my meal prep last night. I sauteed the broccoli and switched out red peppers for olives. Added some onions and 4 sauteed shrimp. It packed up into 3 containers and I am ready for the rest of the week. I do a lot of “kitchen sink” recipes to use up the odds and ends in my fridge. This was my first meal prep. I am excited to keep it up!

  8. I WISH a meal sized serving was only 1 cup for me, haha. I definitely would eat a lot more than that.

  9. A very tasty salad. We love veggies, and also pasta. I slightly blanched the broccoli, ’cause we really don’t care for it raw. Otherwise, this salad was super delish.

  10. I love pasta salads and I make them similar to yours. I vary the pasta type, the veggies, the cheese, even the olives. I never get sick of them. I have used a lot of different bottled dressings but most often I use Good Seasons Italian that I mix up from the dry packet.