Pasta with salad makes a great meal but what if they both became one? Allow me to introduce you to our favorite summer pasta salad. Fresh, crunchy and colorful, this filling salad is our summer dinner. My little one loves it so much that it has been on rotation in my meal plans.
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Salads are my lifeline during summers. The sweltering heat simply puts me off the moment I think of cooking dinner. So, I prep these salads early afternoon and they are ready to be served for dinner. Since most of the summer salads are eaten cold, this works perfectly.
Off late, my fridge has a constant supply of herbs and salad greens. On days like these, when the fridge is bursting from fresh produce, this pasta salad immediately becomes the most requested meal.
This pasta salad is for you since
- This is the best summer pasta salad.
- It s chock full of juicy summer veggies.
- This makes a perfect salad for picnics.
- It is filling, hearty and refreshing.
- BBQ parties always call for pasta salads.
- Pasta salad also makes a mean lunch.
Like any summer salad worth its salt, this too calls for fresh crisp veggies, a light dressing and packs a punch in terms of flavor and texture. If you have cooked pasta on hand, this recipe comes together in less than 20 mins. This takes even lesser time if you have chopped veggies and the dressing ready in the fridge.
Any short or spiral pasta works well. Macaroni, Rigatoni, Fusilli and Penne all are great choices. I have used Rotini pasta to make this salad. Our favorite pasta to use are rotini and macaroni. Yes, we are fans of the summer macaroni salad and the summer tortellini salad. I hope to share the recipes here soon.
In my daughter’s words, a complete pasta salad is only a summer pasta salad with corn. So obviously, other than the usual suspects like onions, tomatoes and cukes, this salad has sweet corn.
This pasta salad is unlike the summer pasta salad with mayo. We are going to be using this avocado green goddess dressing that is not only light but also low fat.
Salad game strategies always include fresh herbs. I cannot imagine a salad without fresh herbs. This recipe calls for a combination of fresh herbs. But fret not if you do not have fresh herbs. You can use dried herbs instead too. Since dried herbs are more potent, use just ½ teaspoon each of the dried herbs.
A pasta salad recipe can be made in so many ways and this recipe is no exception.
- Make it cheesy– add some crumbled feta cheese and this will become something similar to Italian pasta salad.
- Throw in some protein– add some grilled chicken (for non-vegans and meat eaters), tip in some pinto beans or top this with hard boiled eggs. This will make the salad more filling.
- This is almost a spin off of the Greek pasta salad or should I say Mediterranean pasta salad. You can play around with the herbs for different flavors.
- Our pasta salad is a no-oil recipe. You can make it more flavorful by adding a drizzle of olive oil. Use extra virgin olive oil for an amazing flavor.
- You can also add carrot juliennes, chopped avocado, steamed broccoli, sweet peas or asparagus along with the other veggies. Baby spinach tastes good too.
- For a gluten-free version, Use certified gluten-free pasta. Chickpeas pasta for the win! Not a fan of gluten-free pasta? No problem. Use cooked quinoa or brown rice.
Make ahead and shelf life
Prep the dressing well ahead and you can save loads of time. The avocado green goddess dressing keeps well in the fridge for up to a week. Store the dressing in a clean sterilized glass jar. To further cut down cooking time, batch cook pasta and refrigerate. Bring out the cold pasta, place in a colander and wash it under running water. Drain fully and use it in the salad. Cooked pasta keeps well in the fridge for 2 days.
How to serve?
Sure, this makes for a delicious dinner or a wholesome and filling lunch. But you can make it even more interesting.
This is a great dish to bring to a BBQ party and is so easy to make that even kids can put it together. The older kids can help with the chopping while the little ones can help toss everything. Get creative, set up a salad bar on your kitchen counter and let the family assemble this salad. Make sure to include everyone’s favorite vegetable and protein. Think cooked beans, cheese, eggs or grilled chicken.
Make this a complete meal by serving this as a side with grilled meat or a hearty soup. Pair this with a crisp wine for a wonderful summery meal.
Assemble all the ingredients and keep them handy before you begin. Cut open and pit the avocado. Scoop the flesh out.
To a food processor, add the herbs and avocado along with lemon juice, salt and green chilis. Now, blend to a coarse paste. Use the pulse option to do this easily. When done, add the yogurt and blend again to a really smooth paste.
That is it. Our avocado green goddess dressing is ready. Transfer to a clean sterilized canning jar until ready to use.
Cooking the pasta
A recipe for pasta salad involves cooking pasta correctly. Bring to boil 6 cups of water with 3 teaspoon of salt. When the water begins to boil, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. The perfect pasta salad has pasta cooked just right. Do not overcook the pasta because soft pasta simply does not taste good in a pasta salad.
Veggies and herbs
While the pasta cooks, strip the corn, halve the tomatoes and prep the remaining veggies. I have used fresh sweet corn. And I added the corn raw. If you have not tried raw sweet corn in a salad, then now is the time. If you cannot source fresh sweet corn, you can also use frozen sweet corn. Sweet peppers are just amazing in a pasta salad. I have used a combination of red, orange and yellow sweet peppers. Feel free to use regular bell peppers if you do not have sweet peppers. Similarly, wash and pat dry the herbs. Chop them as finely as possible and set aside.
Tossing the salad
Once we have everything prepped, add the veggies and cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Set aside until ready to serve. Keep chilled if serving later.
Adding the dressing
Pour the dressing over just before serving and combine everything together. Serve immediately.
If you are looking for more salad recipes with pasta, then this green apple macaroni salad may interest you.
Explore more salads
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Summer pasta salad
- Mixing bowl
- 1.5 cups cooked rotini pasta
- 1 cup sliced cucumber
- ½ cup freshly stripped raw sweet corn
- ½ cup chopped sweet peppers
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes about 12 cherry tomatoes halved
- 10 pitted kalamata olives
- ¾ cup thinly sliced red onions
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet basil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1.25 teaspoon Kosher salt or to taste
Cooking the pasta
- Bring to boil 6 cups of water with 3 teaspoon of salt.
- When the water begins to boil, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions.
- Once done, drain the pasta in a colander.
- Wash under colander and allow it to sit until all water drains fully.
Veggies and herbs
- While the pasta cooks, strip the corn, halve the tomatoes and prep the remaining veggies.
- Similarly, wash and pat dry the herbs.
- Chop them as finely as possible and set aside.
Tossing the salad
- Once we have everything prepped, add the veggies and cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl.
- Toss to combine.
- Set aside until ready to serve.
- Keep chilled if serving later.
Adding the dressing
- Pour the dressing over just before serving and combine everything together.
- Serve immediately.