California Spaghetti Salad: A Family Tradition

Every family has its cherished recipes, those special dishes that appear at every gathering, creating memories with each bite. For our family, one of those timeless favorites is the California Spaghetti Salad. This vibrant, zesty dish has been passed down through generations, bringing smiles and satisfied appetites to our family table for as long as I can remember.

Our California Spaghetti Salad is a staple at family reunions, summer barbecues, and holiday dinners. It’s more than just a dish; it’s a symbol of our family’s togetherness and shared culinary heritage. Each bite brings a burst of flavors — the crispness of the vegetables, the tanginess of the dressing, and the savory hint of Parmesan cheese.

What makes this salad so universally adored in our family is its versatility and freshness. It’s light yet satisfying, making it perfect for hot summer days. The rainbow of vegetables not only makes it look appetizing but also ensures a variety of textures and flavors in every bite. Plus, the recipe is easily adaptable — you can add your favorite veggies or even throw in some grilled chicken or shrimp for a heartier version.


To create this delightful salad, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound of spaghetti, broken into thirds
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can of sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 bottle of Italian dressing (16 oz)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the Pasta: Begin by cooking the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water. Follow the package instructions for al dente, usually around 9-11 minutes. Once cooked, drain and rinse the pasta with cold water to halt the cooking process and cool it down.
  2. Prepare the Vegetables: While the pasta is cooking, start preparing the vegetables. Halve the cherry tomatoes, dice the cucumber, bell peppers, and finely chop the red onion. Ensure all the vegetables are bite-sized for the best texture and flavor balance.
  3. Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, red onion, and black olives.
  4. Add the Dressing and Cheese: Pour the Italian dressing over the mixture and toss to ensure everything is well-coated. Add the grated Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, paprika, and celery seed. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Season to Taste: Taste the salad and add salt and pepper as needed. Remember, the flavors will meld more as the salad sits, so it’s okay to under-season slightly at this stage.
  6. Chill and Serve: Cover the salad with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This allows the flavors to develop and the salad to chill nicely. Before serving, give it a good stir and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
» MORE:  Simply fantastic! Could eat this for lunch and then dinner again!


The California Spaghetti Salad is more than a recipe; it’s a beloved tradition. It brings our family together, providing a delicious reminder of our shared history and the simple joys of good food. Whether you’re making it for the first time or the hundredth, it’s a dish that promises to delight and satisfy, making every gathering a little more special. So next time you’re looking for a dish that’s sure to please a crowd, give our family’s California Spaghetti Salad a try — it might just become a tradition in your household too!!

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