This Summer Pasta Salad is full of vibrant green veggies! One bite and you’ll be swooning over the super fresh veg, chewy pasta and bright basil-lemon vinaigrette…and a little nutty parm for good measure!
Summer Pasta Salad with All the Green Veggies!
OK, maybe not ALL of them.
It’s inevitable that I’ll be bringing a pasta salad to a party or BBQ this summer. Instead of the ubiquitous creamy macaroni or same old pasta salad, I thought it’d be fun to create a visual story with an all-green vegetable pasta salad!
There are so many green options, so you can absolutely customize this with your favorite veggies or with what’s in season. Have fun with it!
What Goes Into a Green Summer Pasta Salad
- Short dry pasta — I feel the shape and size of the pasta should match or support the other ingredients. The veggies I’ve chosen are slender (either naturally or by cutting) or small in shape, so I selected a short pasta called Casarecce that is slender with a little s-curve. That pocket the curve creates will be able to catch bits of watercress, vinaigrette and cheese!
- French beans — or haricots verts. These are thinner than standard green beans. Cut in half, they’re similar in length to the pasta. (IMHO I think French beans are really elegant.)
- Zucchini — even though not green through-and-through, this is a wonderful salad veg. I love raw zucchini sticks on a crudité platter, so it’s a no brainer here.
- Watercress — this little superfood is one of the oldest leafy greens eaten by humans. I love the shape of their leaves and peppery bite.
- Vinaigrette — of course there’s basil, along with lemon, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil.
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Toss Yourself a Summer Pasta Salad!
- Make the vinaigrette — a mini food processor helps make quick work of this. Zip up fresh basil, whole garlic, the zest and juice of a lemon and salt + pepper. With the motor running, add extra virgin olive oil until it’s all incorporated. Taste it for salt + pepper and adjust as needed.
- Boil the green beans + pasta — Boil a large pot of salted water. When it’s come to a rolling boil, drop in the green beans and cook them for just two to three minutes to intensify their color and make them crisp-tender. Remove them to an ice bath to stop the cooking and drain after a few minutes. Let the water return to a boil then cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and cool the pasta.
- Toss the salad — In a really big bowl, toss the veggies, pasta and cheese together with the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Variations on a Green Summer Pasta Salad
With an enormous array of green veggies, you can customize this salad based on your favorites or what’s in season. There are times when blanching raw veg will enhance your salad experience (like what we did with the green beans). If you’d like to play with other vegetable combos, here are ones I would blanch before adding to the pasta salad:
- Sugar snap peas
Some other raw green vegetables that I think would work well in this salad…
- Small leafy greens like baby kale, spinach, arugula, mâche + microgreens
- Shredded cabbages like savoy and napa
- Fresh english peas
- Shredded Brussels sprouts
Helpful Tips for This Recipe
- Tossing a tiny amount of olive oil with the pasta after you drain it will help keep it from clumping as it cools.
- To speed up the cooling process, pour the pasta into a single layer on a parchment lined sheet pan.
- This salad is best freshly made or served at room temperature. If making ahead, cover and store in the refrigerator. Allow it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes, then give it a good toss before serving.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for 3 days.
- This makes 8 generous servings, and can easily stretch to serve 12 when served as a side with other dishes. For smaller family dinners, you can halve the recipe to make it more manageable.
More Salads We Love!
- Charred Corn Salad with Black Beans + Poblano
- Beet + Baby Greens Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing
- Grilled Chicken + Corn Summer Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing
- Pan Seared Scallop Salad with Mandarin Vinaigrette
Gorgeous Greens Summer Pasta Salad with Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1½ cups basil leaves loosely packed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- ½ tsp kosher salt divided
- fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb short dry pasta
- 8 oz French beans cut in half (thin green beans)
- 1 medium zucchini cut into half moons (about ⅛" thick)
- 2 cups watercress about 2 handfuls
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano freshly grated / shredded
- Make the vinaigrette: blend together the basil, garlic, lemon zest, juice, 1/4 tsp kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper. With the blender running, drizzle in the olive oil until everything is well combined. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Create an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. Leave enough space to add the green beans after blanching.
- Set a large pot of salted water over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, drop in the green beans and blanch them for two to three minutes. Using tongs or a spider, remove them to the ice bath. After a few minutes, drain and set aside to dry.
- Bring the pot of water back to a boil and cook the pasta per package instructions. Drain in a colander and allow to cool. (It's ok to drizzle a little olive oil on your pasta to keep it from clumping as it cools. To speed up the cooling process, spread it out on a parchment lined sheet pan.)
- In a large bowl, add the pasta, all the veggies, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, some black pepper and the cheese. Drizzle in the lemon-basil vinaigrette and toss everything together to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Nutritional values are estimated and provided as a general guideline only.