Summer Pasta Salad

summer pasta salad
Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

If you’re looking for a great summer dish that requires little prep and no oven, we’ve got you covered. Our deliciously healthy and light pasta salad recipe is perfect for a picnic, potluck, BBQ , or any summer meal. It is a breeze to prepare and comes together in under 30 minutes. Simply cook the pasta, chop the produce and whip up the dressing. This refreshing dish is a great way to showcase some of the season’s scrumptious fruits and vegetables. The combination of delicate pasta, crunchy walnuts, bright onions, peppery arugula, crisp cucumbers, sweet tomatoes, succulent nectarines and creamy feta tossed together with our zesty sun-dried tomato vinaigrette creates irresistible flavors and textures. It can be prepared gluten-free and vegan. No mayo makes it perfect for outdoor events.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 10 oz box of whole grain or gluten free rotini or bow-tie pasta
  • 2 cups arugula, chopped
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 nectarines, sliced (you can use peaches also)
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (white wine, apple cider, or rice) or lemon juice
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 6 sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. While pasta is cooking, prep the remaining ingredients and place all dressing ingredients in a blender. Mix until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients and gently toss with dressing.
  4. You can top with fresh herbs such as basil, mint or cilantro.
Nutrient highlights

Arugula: Greens such as kale, spinach, collards, mustard greens, arugula, and chard have been shown to protect bones from osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, support a healthy gut, strengthen the immune system, protect cognition and supply a high amount of antioxidants.  They are considered to be among some of the best anticancer foods.

Cucumber: One of the most hydrating foods to help the body with temperature regulation, physical performance and metabolism. Can also help with balancing blood sugar levels.

Nectarines: A good source of soluble fiber to feed the beneficial bacteria in our intestines. The skin and flesh are high in vitamin C for immune and collagen support as well as carotenoids (antioxidants) which have anticancer effects. Also peach polyphenols have been shown to reduce the growth and limit the spread of cancer cells. Since peaches are 80% water, they can help with hydration.

Tomatoes: A great source of lycopene that helps reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and protects skin integrity. Cooking tomatoes in a healthy fat (such as olive or avocado oil) increases the amount of available lycopene that the body will absorb.

Onions and shallots: Considered a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the “good” bacteria in our gut and promotes a healthy digestive system. Research supports that the compounds such as allicin in onions have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and cardioprotective properties

Walnuts: Great source of plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve overall health.

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