Garden Pasta Salad featuring Fresh Squash & Peppers

Posted on July 8, 2011

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One of my favorite ways to use fresh produce like squash (yellow and zucchini), bell peppers, onions and broccoli is to make a pasta salad. The only thing that I need to cook is the pasta, so it’s easy and perfect for a hot summer day. You can serve the pasta salad as a side dish for a larger meal or by itself as a light, but filling, entree.The leftovers are a great way to supplement to tomato sandwiches at lunchtime.

Ingredients—I’m including an ingredients list, mainly because of the need for pasta and dressing:

  • Produce: Yellow and zucchini squash, broccoli florets, green/yellow or red bell peppers, small onion — Use your imagination based on what’s available at the farmers market or in your refrigerator.
  • 3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta (like fusel, or shells). It’s OK to use regular pasta, but I prefer whole wheat because it’s so much healthier
  • Dressing:
    1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
    3 teaspoons of lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    One clove of garlic
    Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl using a fork so that all of the ingredients are blended and let it sit while you’re making the salad. Whisk again before pouring over the salad (see Step Nine below).

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Step One: Cook 3 cups of dried whole wheat pasta. I’m using fusilli this time. Small shells work great, as well. While the pasta is cooking, mix the dressing (above) and move on to step two.

It isn’t mandatory that you use whole wheat pasta, but whole wheat is my preference. Whole grains are much healthier (and so much tastier than the boring refined, white stuff, which I can barely eat now).

Step Two: Slice about 4-6 small yellow squash and an equivalent amount of zucchini squash.
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This week, I’m low on zucchini (only had two very small zucchini) so my salad will be less “green” than I like it.

Step Three: Diced a small onion (or half of a larger onion). A red onion will be prettier, but use what you have. Slice and dice a bell pepper. Use whatever color is available.
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Step Four: Add one to two cups of fresh broccoli florets.
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Step Five: Drain and rinse the pasta.
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Ordinarily, you shouldn’t rinse the pasta but when using the pasta in a cold pasta salad, rinsing helps.

Step Six: Add the pasta to the vegetables and mix well. If the pasta hasn’t completely cooled, wait a few minutes before moving to Step Seven (you don’t want the cheese to melt).

Step Seven: While waiting for the pasta to cool, slice and dice about 4 oz. of cheddar cheese, so that you end up with small cubes about 1/4″ square. The precise shape and size is up to you. Smaller is better, in my opinion, and shape only matters for appearance sake. Shredded doesn’t work well, however.
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Step Eight: Once you’re certain the pasta is cool, add the cheese to the pasta and veggie mixture.
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Step Nine: Pour the dressing over the pasta/veggie/cheese and mix. Cool in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
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Step Ten: Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (to taste) and serve.
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Note: You’re using raw veggies here, no need to cook or peel. Just make sure to wash any dirt off. Well, peel the outer layer off the onion but, otherwise, nothing needs peeling.

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Posted in: Cooking, Food, Recipes