We love serving pasta salad as a side dish for a cookout or barbecue. There are hundreds of recipes to choose from, but we tend to go with a veggie filled pesto version as we head into the heart of summer. Pasta salads can often time be filled with mayo which makes it a very bulky side dish. This version is made with quinoa pasta, pesto, and tons of veggies like zucchini and roasted tomatoes. It is filling, yet healthy, and goes with just about everything. We prefer to serve this pasta salad warm or room temperature; if you want to serve it chilled make sure you mix it well and season again with salt and pepper, as chilled foods tend to taste less seasoned than hot foods.
Summer Pasta Salad
Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes
- 1 lb fusilli pasta (we used a quinoa based)
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and diced
- 2 yellow squash, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and diced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 cup pesto
- 1/3 cup grated or crumbled Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 12 minutes to al dente. Reserve 3/4 – 1 cup of pasta water before straining the pasta into a sink.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Sauté for 2 minutes or until the garlic is starting to brown. Add the zucchini to the pan and saute for another 4-5 minutes, or until the zucchini also starts to brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the zucchini from the pan and add the tomatoes. Cook just a few minutes- you don’t want the tomatoes to turn into a sauce- you just want them to brown up.
- Put the pesto in a large serving bowl. Add the hot pasta and stir everything well, adding pasta water as necessary so that everything is nicely coated and not sticky. Add the zucchini and tomatoes to the pasta and gently mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.