I’m currently sitting in my parents’ backyard—an oasis in the heart of Northern California—it’s my happy place. Circa 2001, their backyard was an overgrown, shadow-version of what it is today. The towering redwoods and oaks still stand, but everything else was planted by hand. Over the last 20 years, my dad has cultivated a lush sanctuary—an ode to patience, persistence, and loving care. I’m always inspired by this outdoor space. The breeze floats softly through the English laurels and the sunlight dapples across the sandstone walkway. It’s all intentionally curated, a celebration of coastal California’s beauty. My favorite corner, of course, is my mom’s garden. Every time I come back, it’s a true homecoming: what’s grown while I’ve been gone was planted when I left. This is what inspired my summer pasta salad recipe!
This time of year, the basil, chives, and arugula are thriving. Along with a few pantry staples and farmers market produce, this recipe came to be. It’s hearty and flavorful, the kind of pasta salad you always want on hand. It’s easy to make, highlights seasonal ingredients, and tastes deliciously wholesome. Double the recipe, and it feeds a substantial crowd. Add this veggie summer pasta recipe to your barbecue sides repertoire—it’s best alongside grilled chicken or veggie burgers. Perfect for your next dinner party.
When I dreamt up this recipe, the grill came to mind. Charred veggies, after all, taste so good. The natural sugars caramelize, providing an unparalleled taste. Those grill marks add a depth of flavor unlike anything else—they bring the whole dish together. If you love a scorched marshmallow (hello, me) or the crisp edge of the brownie pan (also, me), this pasta salad recipe is for you.
We all know that eating the rainbow is essential, but healthy doesn’t have to be synonymous with bland. A quick sauté, roast, or grill can uplevel any vegetable. To cover my bases, this pasta salad includes an array of colors. Greens (edamame, herbs, and zucchini), purples (shallot, olives, and eggplant), and reds (cherry tomatoes and red chili flakes). When in doubt, remember this—the more vibrant the produce, the more rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. When you cook with fresh produce, you can’t go wrong.
Along with fiber-rich vegetables, I threw in fresh mozzarella pearls for delicate creaminess. They also add a bit of protein. Speaking of protein, I also included edamame. One cup of edamame has approximately 17 grams of protein! This pasta salad has it all: complex carbohydrates (veggies and whole wheat pasta), healthy fats (olives, extra-virgin olive oil, and mozzarella), protein (whole wheat pasta, mozzarella, and edamame), and fiber (veggies, herbs, and whole wheat pasta).
Without any substitutions, this recipe is vegetarian. That said, you can easily make it vegan by omitting the mozzarella. And if you don’t eat soy, there’s no need for the edamame. To make this summer pasta recipe gluten-free, swap the whole wheat pasta for an alternative flour, like chickpea, lentil, quinoa, or brown rice pasta (here are some of our favorite gluten-free alternatives). But of course, nothing compares to fresh pasta. At any rate, don’t forget to salt your pasta water. Here’s a helpful salting ratio: 1:1:4—1 pound pasta, 1 tablespoon salt, 4 quarts water.
Get creative with this recipe, as it’s very customizable. Depending on what veggies and herbs you have on hand, you can add charred asparagus, bell pepper, and chopped mint to the mix. This kind of pasta salad is best served at room temperature, and it comes together in no time. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the black pepper. Pasta and a glass of rosé? The perfect pair.
Depending on what veggies and herbs you have on hand, you can add charred asparagus, bell pepper, and chopped mint to the mix. This kind of pasta salad is best served at room temperature, and it comes together in no time. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the black pepper.
- 1 pound pasta (I used whole wheat fusilli)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- ½ large eggplant
- 1 bunch broccolini
- 1 large summer squash
- 1 large zucchini
- Avocado oil spray
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup mozzarella pearls
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
- ½ cup shallot
- ½ cup fresh basil
- ½ cup fresh chives
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Sea salt, pepper, and red chili flakes to taste
- Cook pasta according to package. Let cool.
- Prep veggies for grilling: wash and slice eggplant into ½-inch rounds, wash broccolini, slice summer squash and zucchini in half, then in half again. Spray veggies in avocado oil, sea salt, and pepper.
- Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Cut shallot into thin, half-moon slices. Julienne basil. Chop chives.
- Turn grill on to medium-high heat. Grill broccolini for 3-5 minutes, turning half-way through. Grill eggplant, summer squash, and zucchini for 10-12 minutes, turning half-way through.
- In a large bowl, combine pasta, grilled veggies, edamame, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, kalamata olives, and herbs.
- Drizzle on extra-virgin olive oil. Top with lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, black pepper, and red chili flakes
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