Cool and refreshing, pasta salads are a great dish to showcase the best vegetables summer has to offer.
The basic building blocks of a great pasta salad are a good quality pasta, a dressing and loads of crunchy fresh veggies. Once you’ve got that down, you can unleash spices, herbs and let your imagination — and your taste buds — run wild.
PICK A PASTA
Spaghetti and linguine are amazing, just not in a salad. You want small pieces with lots of nooks and crannies to soak up your dressing. Think rotini, farfalle and similar shapes. You also want to cook it just past al dente so that it holds up to chilling and serving.
MAKE YOUR DRESSING
You can use a bottled dressing or you can make your own. If you decide to DIY, start with something as simple as oil, vinegar and a handful of herbs. You can add lemons or limes, or, you can use a creamy mayo-based sweeter dressing or tangy cream cheese. Let your taste buds be your guide.
SNAP INTO SOME VEGGIES
Next, add chopped veggies into the mix. Fresh corn kernels are a great addition, as are cubes of creamy avocado and slices of fresh, crunchy celery. Don’t forget flavorful summer tomatoes, chopped spinach, bell pepper, broccoli, carrots and more. Just make sure you chop them well.
BOW TIE AND SPINACH SALAD
- 2 cups uncooked multigrain bow tie pasta
- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach
- 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
- 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium sweet pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup cubed part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup pitted Greek olives, halved
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- 1/3 cup sundried tomato salad dressing
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. 2. Add beans, veggies, cheese, olives, basil and pasta. Drizzle with dressing while pasta is still warm, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Sprinkle with walnuts. 3. Chill and serve.