Quick and Refreshing Summer Pasta Salad

It was over 100 degrees today, yes triple digits. Here in Northern California, on days like this, I wilt and complain about the heat. I know things can be so much worse; we don’t have a concept of humidity in the 90’s or nights that never cool below 85 degrees.

We enjoy low humidity and evenings that offer some relief, especially every few days when the fog rolls in and we get a wonderful cooling trend.

Nevertheless, if you are like me, you don’t even want to think about turning on the oven to make dinner on days like these. A wonderful solution is this easy pasta salad recipe. You will have to turn on the stove, or you can make the salad in the cool morning hours and serve it straight from the fridge in the evening. Don’t forget the sourdough bread and chilled white wine – guaranteed to make you feel better and forget about the heat.

pasta salad ziti
Dried fusilli

Notes to the cook: Use any combination of short pasta, such as fusilli, farfalle (bow tie), penne or ziti. I used a blend of dried fusilli complements of Libby at Beet Generation Farm at the Farmer’s Market. This is a combination of beet, spinach and tomato flavored fusilli. Have fun with flavored pasta if that suits your fancy.

You might want to serve some cold antipasto to complete the dinner. Here are some seasonal ideas: Olive, Tomato Antipasto, or Stuffed Radicchio with fig jam.


Quick and Easy Summer Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

A fresh, light pasta salad perfect for a late summer dinner.


  • 1 lb. fusilli or short dried pasta, such as ziti, farfalle, or penne.
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 medium spring onion, sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh basil, about 3 Tablespoons, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • optional – in-season tomatoes or fresh mozzarella cheese cut into chunks


  1. Cook pasta, following package directions. Drain and spoon into a large salad bowl. Toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Bring 4 cups water to boil in a large saucepan. Add carrots and boil for about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and cook for another 2 minutes. Next, add peas and cook until just tender. The key is to cook the vegetables until they are nice and tender but not mushy.
  3. Drain and rinse the vegetables with cool water to stop the cooking process.
  4. Spoon the vegetables over the cooked pasta. Add basil, parsley, oregano and sliced onions and toss to coat everything with the olive oil.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste and add more olive oil as desired.
  6. Variations: Add fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese chunks to salad. Toss well.


3 thoughts

Your comments are always welcome!