Summer Pasta Salad

Summer is the best time of year for all things salads! You can easily get overwhelmed with all the salad potential that comes with the summer harvest — so many vegetable combinations, so little time. And if you aren’t expanding past your sad salads of the same lettuce, a few standard vegetables, and sensible dressing, you are truly missing out.

Salads can be so much more than toppings on a bed of lettuce. Summer is the perfect time to keep a different one in the refrigerator each week to enjoy. This pasta summer salad can be a meal in itself or a light side to other summer favorites: backyard grilled meats, fresh fish or seafood.

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Don’t take these ingredients as the gospel, feel free to substitute your favorites, add more, take away, or whatever makes you happy. If you don’t like bowtie pasta, choose a different type. Stick with chickpeas (in my opinion) as they hold up to the dressing and store in the refrigerator without getting soggy. Plus, they add a boost of protein if you decide to eat this alone.

In this go-round, I used bell pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes.

The rest of the ingredients shown are for the dressing — an avocado, lemon, garlic, basil, and dijon mustard, with salt and pepper.

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Pro tip: seed your cucumber to help keep your salad from getting soggy. You don’t have to take this extra step, but you will notice a quality difference after a day or so in the refrigerator. The cucumber seeds quickly spoon out.

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  • You’ll want about 2-3 cups of cooked pasta.

  • Cook and drain pasta.

  • Drain and rinse your can of chickpeas.

  • Chop your vegetables.

  • Add them all to a big bowl and salt and pepper to taste.

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In a food processor, prepare the dressing.

  • Add in a 1/2 cup of chopped, fresh basil.

  • *A fresh avocado (peeled).

  • The juice of a lemon.

  • A tablespoon of minced garlic (or 2 fresh cloves).

  • A generous tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

  • Process till smooth.

  • Then add up to 1/4 cup water and process again.

*My avocado was not ripe enough and I ended up wasting a lot while peeling it. Since the avocado provides the creaminess, you desire in dressing. I added one teaspoon of olive oil. If you can’t find a fresh and ripe avocado, forgo it and look in your grocery for the prepared guacamole (It is already super smooth) and sub about 1/2 cup or one of the small guacamole containers.

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Combine the dressing and the vegetables whit he pasta and chickpeas.

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Yo! That is one pretty salad! It is light, yet filling. It is full of protein and fiber. It will be a big hit at your cookouts, and with your family. Seal it tight and it will last several days in your refrigerator. Best served chilled.

Rebecca Turner