Summer Pasta Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing
This summer pasta salad combines fresh zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, sweet onion, and feta cheese with a tangy, creamy lemon dressing.
A colorful assortment of fresh seasonal produce is the highlight of this tasty summer pasta salad. Tossed with a dressing made with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, grated zest, garlic, and a splash of cream, it makes a great side dish to serve with grilled entrées like steak, chicken and skewered shrimp.
Variations on our summer pasta salad recipe
- Cuts of pasta: The pasta we chose for this dish is mini farfalle, but any cut that holds sauce, or in this case, dressing well will do. Other possibilities include penne, rigatoni, and medium shells.
- Alternative veggies: We favor this easy combination of zucchini, grape or cherry tomatoes and sweet bell pepper, but here are a few alternatives you could try. Fresh green beans that have been trimmed and blanched, grilled corn cut from the cob, shaved Brussels sprouts, or diced carrots are a few that come to mind.
- Dressing variations: The first flavor variation you could try with this recipe would be to add a handful of fresh basil leaves cut chiffonade style to the creamy lemon dressing in the recipe. Green Goddess is another excellent dressing choice as is a simple balsamic vinaigrette.
- Cheese varieties: We like feta because it pairs so well with the fresh lemon flavor in this recipe, but it’s certainly not the only option. Fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes would be delicious, and if you were switching up the dressing to a balsamic vinaigrette, crumbled blue cheese would be a top choice. If you chose another creamy dressing like Green Goddess or ranch, think about omitting the cheese completely and adding some diced avocado instead.
More summer salad recipes:
- Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta Salad
- Tomato and Avocado Salad
- Watermelon and Feta Salad
- Grilled Turkey Salad with Low-Fat Avocado Dressing
- Jalapeno Popper Corn Salad (from Taste of Home)
- 10 ounces pasta (farfalle, rotini, penne)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more if needed)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half or cream
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
- Prepare the dressing by combining the olive oil, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, half-and-half and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended and set aside.
- Cook and drain the pasta according to package directions. Transfer to a large bowl, add about 1/2 of the reserved dressing, combine well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Add the zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, parsley and feta cheese. Toss to combine, adjust the seasoning if necessary and add the remaining dressing. Toss again and add an extra drizzle of olive oil if desired. Serve immediately.
This pasta salad can easily be made ahead. For best flavor, remove from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 265mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 13gProtein: 8g
Note: Nutrition information is estimated and may vary from your actual results.