Pasta salad is my favorite summer side dish. I love the colors of fresh produce, the fun noodles you can pick and the chilling, refreshing taste on a hot summer day. The beauty of pasta salad is that you can truly mix and match anything you have in your fridge, anything that looks good at the store or anything you’re craving. Personally, I like about a 50/50 ratio of pasta to produce and toppings. Cheese is a must. Nuts or veggies with texture like cucumbers and onions add a great crunch. The dressing can be a simple vinaigrette mix, like EVOO, vinegar, salt, pepper and usually a little sweetness from sugar, honey or agave. For this salad, I decided to blend together my vinaigrette mix with a whole bunch of parsley to color the salad like pesto. It was so aromatic and added a beautiful, vibrant green color. The best part of pasta salad is that it gets better with time. Make it a day ahead for maximum flavor at your party!
- 1 box of your favorite pasta shape
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 4 Persian cucumbers, cut into half moons
- ½ a red onion, sliced into thin strips
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 block feta cheese, cubed
- 1 bundle flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup sun dried tomatoes, diced
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds, or any nut
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp honey, granulated sugar or agave
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Cool completely.
- Make parsley dressing. Blend together parsley leaves with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, sugar and 1 tablespoon on sunflower seeds.
- Toss dressing with onions and let sit while pasta continues cooking. This will help take the bite off the red onion.
- Once pasta is completely cooled, toss with remaining veggies, cheese and nuts. Add in parsley dressing and onions. Taste to adjust seasoning as needed.
- Chill until serving.
Just a note – the batch above is HUGE, so cut it in half if you’re not entertaining a big crowd. If you have any leftover pasta noodles, try making this baked pasta dish! If you’re looking for other summer sides, this list has a few of my ultimate summer faves.
What do you like to include in your pasta salad? Comment below!
Love food. Love self. Love life.