Summertime Pasta Salad

by Lana Stuart on June 3, 2011 · 18 comments

Summertime Pasta Salad

Call me old-fashioned but I just love a good old pasta salad. One that is loaded with fresh veggies and coated with a rich, tangy dressing. Oh, yeah.

That’s right, I’m bringing back the centerpiece of every 1980’s cookout. I’m making it my mission to revive the lowly pasta salad. Just ask BeeBop. We’ve had it three times in the last two weeks :-) And why not? It’s really delicious. And it can be pretty healthy as long as you don’t load it up with lots of cheese and too much dressing. This Summertime Pasta Salad has more vegetables than pasta and goes fairly easy on the dressing. It is a great accompaniment for pretty much anything you want to grill – chicken, fish, shrimp, steaks, burgers – so let’s get started!

First you’ll cook half a pound of rotini pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold running water. Let it sit and drain while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Veggies for Summertime Pasta Salad

You’ll need a large mixing bowl to hold all of this salad. Add each of the ingredients to the bowl as you work. Amounts are just a guideline. Add more or less as you prefer. Admittedly, there is a lot of chopping involved in making this salad, but none of it is difficult.

So, first peel, chop and seed a large tomato. Next peel the cucumbers and cut them into small cubes. I prefer the Kirby pickling type cucumbers for this salad. They just taste like summer to me. Now remove the stems, ribs and seeds from the sweet peppers, chop them and add to the bowl. Cut the roasted red bell pepper into about ½” pieces and add it, too. Finely chop the celery and green onions adding them to the bowl with the other vegetables. Don’t use too much celery since it has a really strong taste and can overpower the entire salad if you aren’t careful. Last, stack up the basil leaves, roll them up like a little cigar and cut crosswise into ribbon-like shreds. Add to the bowl.

Summertime Pasta Salad

Add the cool, well drained pasta to the bowl. Pour over the dressing.

Dressing for Pasta Salad

I used this Parmesan and garlic dressing this time, but you can use any Italian or Mediterranean-type dressing that your family likes. Normally I use the iconic “zesty Italian.” Always good!

Add the salt and pepper. Toss everything together until well mixed.

Suggestions: Other additions that are also good are olives (both black and green), thinly sliced red onion and blanched green beans cut into 1″ lengths. To make this into a main dish salad, add some grilled chicken or shrimp.


Summertime Pasta Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A cold pasta salad packed with fresh veggies and lightly dressed with a parmesan-garlic dressing.
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 8 oz. rotini pasta
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 medium pickling cucumbers
  • 4-5 small sweet peppers (or 1 whole green bell pepper)
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 3-4 large basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
  • 2/3 cup Italian or other Mediterranean-type dressing
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  1. Cook the rotini according to the package directions. Drain and rinse well under cold running water. Let the rotini drain while preparing the remaining ingredients.
  2. Add ingredients to a large mixing bowl as you work. Peel, chop and seed a large tomato.
  3. Peel the cucumbers and cut into small cubes.
  4. Remove the stems and seeds from the sweet peppers, chop them and add to the bowl.
  5. Cut the roasted red bell pepper into about ½” pieces and add it, too.
  6. Finely chop the celery and green onions adding them to the bowl with the other vegetables.
  7. Stack the basil leaves, roll up and cut crosswise into ribbon-like shreds. Add to the bowl.
  8. Add the cool, drained pasta to the bowl.
  9. Pour over the dressing.
  10. Add the salt and pepper.
  11. Toss everything together until well mixed.
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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mae June 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I love pasta salad too! I guess I’m putting two large tomatoes in lol


2 Susan Mallery June 3, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I do love a good pasta salad! That Parmesan garlic salad dressing looks delicious! I think I’m going to make this salad this weekend, Lana. Maybe it will bring summer to Seattle.


3 Lana June 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I wish I could send you some of our summer. We’ve been having temps in the mid to upper 90’s for a few weeks now. Definitely summer here!


4 Chris June 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Girl, bring it back! Bring it back! I love this salad…and I love that it isn’t downed in an opaque river of questionableness. :) Bright and vibrant; just like you! :)


5 Lana June 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Aw, Chris – what a sweet comment! And you know the truth is…I could up the amount of tomatoes in this and pretty much do without any dressing at all!


6 Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels June 4, 2011 at 5:01 am

I love a good pasta salad too. Yours looks so flavorful and I love how colorful it is. :)


7 Lana June 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Thanks, Lindsey. I purposely used the plain pasta so that the colors of the veggies would stand out on their own. They just seem to get lost when you use the tri-color stuff.


8 Katherine June 4, 2011 at 7:39 am

Such a summery recipe! Love it.


9 Drick June 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm

so like pasta salads, and so do enjoy them during the summer… especially like them with the shrimp….


10 Lana June 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Right. A handful of grilled shrimp tossed in there and you’ve got a whole meal.


11 Medifast Coupons June 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I love a pasta salad, and the next day for lunch it is always that much better. Thanks so much for your version to try.


12 Jessica June 5, 2011 at 1:24 am

How many servings does this recipe yield? I’m having a party for about 55ish people. Thanks and I’m so excited to try out this dish! It looks delicious :)


13 Lana June 5, 2011 at 7:38 am

Jessica – This makes about 8 servings as a side dish or with the addition of some grilled chicken or shrimp would serve 4-6 as a main dish salad.


14 claudia lamascolo June 5, 2011 at 7:15 am

looks awesome, perfect summer picnic salad!


15 SMITH BITES June 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm

there is NOTHING like a great pasta salad on a hot summer day – and this one is terrific Lana!!


16 sippitysup June 6, 2011 at 11:43 am

Bold YES please GREG


17 Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen June 23, 2011 at 10:44 am

My husband would go bonkers for this salad, I must make it!


18 Lana June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm

It’s a really, really good one and of course you can add or modify it any way you want. Go for it!


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