Favorite Summer Pasta Salad Recipe

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summer-pasta-salad-recipe

Although the sun is starting to set earlier and we just received notification about our pool’s last day, I’m not quite ready to let go of summer just yet.  Maybe it’s that the corn is still for sale or the warm days that August will continue to bring. 

Or it might just be that I haven’t served my favorite pasta salad recipe enough this season. 

When it comes to simple summer pasta salads, this one is my go to.  It all started with my mom making a version of this recipe from the back of a classic pasta box as a kid. That cut out back followed me all the way to college where it became a vintage treasure in my stack of recipes.

Over the years, I have added, tweaked and subtracted ingredients to this pasta salad.  And it has become my favorite summer pasta salad recipe.

What Makes It a Great Summer Pasta Salad?

Although there are lots of things that make this a great summer pasta salad, my favorite part is all of the fresh vegetables.  I mainly use a variety of bell and colored peppers that we pick straight from the garden in later summer months.  But you can also add corn, zucchini and even radishes.  It’s really up to you and your salad tastes. 

My other favorite part is all of the color.  This pasta salad is a feast for the eyes.  From the colors of the vegetables to the pasta noodles, there’s so much to look at.

The Problem with the Mayo Dressing

One of the things that makes this pasta salad one of my favorites is the dressing.  It has a sweet and tangy taste that I love.

The only issue is that the base of the dressing is mayonnaise.  In the summer heat, this can be a major problem if you want to travel with your pasta salad. 

I have brought this pasta salad with me on picnics and regretted it immediately.  And that was in the spring.

So if you are serving this pasta salad during the summer (or any time of year really), leave it in a cold place until serving.  Mayonnaise turns very quickly in the summer heat.  Which will make your pasta salad inedible.

Also, this isn’t the pasta salad to leave outside in the sun or pack for a picnic lunch.  If you bring it to serve at the neighbor’s barbeque, refrigerate immediately.  And if you take the leftovers with you to work to enjoy for lunch, be sure to refrigerate them.

What Kind of Pasta Do I Use?

One thing that makes this pasta salad such a fun summer party dish is it’s color.  And the ingredient that helps make it colorful is the pasta noodles.

When making a pasta salad, choose a dried pasta noodle.  I have never tried making a salad with a fresh pasta, but I’m not sure how that would turn out.

For this pasta salad, I usually use a bright and colorful tricolor rotini or penne. 

If you’re serving this pasta salad at a special event, you could use a shaped noodle instead.  I love the variety of pasta shapes and colors from Pastabilities.  You can choose “Happy Birthday” pasta featuring cakes and gifts.  Or “Let’s Go Crabin'” pasta for some summer time fun with crabs, suns and starfish.

At the kick off of baseball season each year, I use the baseball pasta to make special opening day pasta salad.  And for Fourth of July, I use the American Pride pasta to add a festive touch to our barbeque pasta salad. (affiliates)

summer-pasta-salad-recipe

Favorite Summer Pasta Salad Recipe

You Will Need:

1 Red Pepper, Orange Pepper and Green Pepper – chopped (you can choose any combination of the three peppers that you like)

1/2 of a Red Onion

4 ounces of a Mild Cheese – I like to use Colby Jack because of it’s marbled colors.  But you can also use Monterey Jack or even a mild Cheddar.  Really depends on the kind of cheese you prefer (and what I have on hand in the fridge.)

Tri-color Penne, Rotini or Other Colorful Pasta

1/2 cup Mayo

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Sugar

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Place in a large bowl and let cool.  (I usually make the pasta in the morning and let it cool a couple of hours before mixing in all of the ingredients.)

2.  Chop up the vegetables – red pepper, green pepper and red onion.  Pour on top of the cooled pasta noodles and mix.

3.  Cut the cheese into small cubes.  Mix into the pasta salad.

4.  Mix the dressing for the salad.  Measure a 1/2 cup of mayo into a measuring cup.  Juice a lemon (I love to use my juicer for this step (affiliate)).  Measure a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Whip the ingredients up using a fork.  

5.  Pour the dressing on top of the salad.  Mix well making sure all of the pasta noodles are adequately covered in dressing.

Chill the pasta salad for at least another hour or two to let the ingredients fully combine.  Serve cold.  Be sure to stir it again before serving.

summer-party-food-assortment

More Summer Party Food that We Love

Nothing beats celebrating during the summertime.  Especially when making memories outdoors with friends and family.  

But one of the best parts of summer parties is the food.  Here are a couple of other recipes that we love.

Sweet and Salty Sand Pudding Cups

Easy Strawberry Lemonade Recipe

No Bake Mini Berry Tarts

Watermelon Cake Pops

Marbled Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

Love this easy summer pasta salad recipe and want to save the recipe for later?  Be sure to pin it below.

summer-pasta-salad-recipe

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Summer Pasta Salad Recipe

Summer Pasta Salad Recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 6 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1 Orange Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 8 ounces of mild cheese such as Monterey Jack or Colby Jack
  • 1 Box of Tricolor Rotini, Penne or other colorful pasta
  • For Dressing:
  • 1/2 of mayonaisse
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about a tablespoon)

Instructions

    1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Place in a large bowl and let cool.  (I usually make the pasta in the morning and let it cool a couple of hours before mixing in all of the ingredients.

    2.  Chop up the vegetables - red pepper, green pepper and red onion.  Pour on top of the cooled pasta noodles and mix.

    3.  Cut the cheese into small cubes.  Mix into the pasta salad.

    4.  Mix the dressing for the salad.  Measure a 1/2 cup of mayo into a measuring cup.  Juice a lemon (I love to use my juicer for this step (affiliate)).  Measure a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Whip the ingredients up using a fork.  

    5.  Pour the dressing on top of the salad.  Mix well making sure all of the pasta noodles are adequately covered in dressing.

Notes

After mixing together the pasta salad, be sure to chill it for at least another hour or two to let the ingredients fully combine.  Serve cold.  Be sure to stir it again before serving.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 499mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 11g

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