School is in session but the weather still says “summer”. Soon we’ll have a nice break from the heat with a few days of temperatures in the 70s. Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy a garden pasta salad with a back to school outdoor picnic. I love eating outdoors. I love the sounds of the birds, the sunshine, and the cool breeze. A pasta salad is so versatile, because you can add just about anything to it, and also use up leftovers. It can be a meatless meal, or you can add cheese, chunks of cooked chicken breast or mini meatballs.
This easy dish can be a meal, or a side dish, and travels well for pot-lucks and picnics. You can also make it ahead, and then use it through the week on busy weeknights. Enjoy!
Very Veggie Pasta Salad
1 pound of whole wheat penne or elbow macaroni
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large cucumber, seeded, diced
3-4 plum tomatoes, seeded, diced
1 bell pepper or 2 banana peppers, seeded, diced
1/2 cup chopped spinach or kale
1/4 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts (optional)
3 TB chopped fresh herb (use your favorite – basil, oregano, thyme)
2 TB lemon juice or favorite vinegar (I love my Sicilian lemon vinegar)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese, or a vegan cheese (optional)
- Cook pasta, according to al dente directions (usually about 8 minutes). Drain well.
- Add chopped vegetables, nuts and herbs to pasta, and toss until mixed. You can use any veggie you like. I prefer dicing them. Try adding cubed and roasted eggplant or chopped broccoli or cauliflower.
- Mix lemon juice and olive oil in small bowl. Pour over pasta and toss gently until mixed.
- Add crumbled feta cheese and toss. (You can also add cooked chicken or chopped cooked shrimp)
- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or up to a day, until ready to eat.