Summer Pasta Salad1

What do hot, hot, HOT summer days make you think of? For me, it’s a number of things.

Growing up and eating MASSIVE amounts of watermelon with my grandpa.

Being on summer vacation from school and getting to wake up whenever the heck I want. (I’m an ‘adult’ with a regular ‘job’ now, so this doesn’t happen anymore.)

The song “Summer Nights” from Grease.

Summer Pasta Salad3

The sound of the ice cream truck music playing in my grandmother’s neighborhood.

Spike Lee’s movie, “Do the Right Thing”.

The handful of summer camps/programs that my Mom signed me up for…neither of which I ever liked.

Cedar Point trips.

Beautiful, cool(er) sunsets.

Summer Pasta Salad2

Now how about food? I know that for me, I have “Summer Memories”, and then apart from that, I have “Summer Food Memories.”

Watermelon. Eating watermelon wedge after watermelon wedge until I start burping- that’s how I know when to stop.

Ice cream. One of the only things that I like about extreme summer heat is that it gives me an excuse to eat ice cream. It’s not like I ever NEED an excuse. I definitely eat ice cream in the dead of winter as well, but…still.

Popsicles. Not the watery kind in the plastic wrappers; REAL popsicles with chunks of fruit that are so thick and creamy, you can chew them.

Barbecue. Nothing replacesΒ  the flavor that a charcoal grill can inject into a piece of meat. Nothing.

Summer Pasta Salad4

Finally, there’s pasta salad.

Pasta salad has gotta be one of the most quintessential summer foods there is. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like pasta salad.

I don’t know if I even WANT to know anyone who doesn’t like pasta salad.

I’ve tried lots of different kinds of pasta salads in the past that experimented with different flavors, including this VERY delicious Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad. However, this recipe sticks to the ‘basics’ of pasta salad, resulting in a dish that is pretty much guaranteed to please everybody.

I’ve included all of the ingredients that I personally prefer in my pasta salad, but should you try this out, feel free to add or swap out stuff that you or your family prefers, like cheese, olives, or meat.

I think it’ll make for a pretty cool summer memory πŸ˜‰


Summer Pasta Salad

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living



  • 8 oz. Penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 green , yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped and undrained
  • 1 cup yellow canned corn, drained
  • 3 mini salad cucumbers, thinly sliced

Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced



Combine all of the salad dressing ingredients together in a glass measuring cup with a whisk.. Taste and adjust for seasoning if need be.

In a large bowl, toss all of the salad ingredients together, then drizzle in your desired amount of the dressing.

Refrigerate pasta salad for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld, but preferably overnight. Serve chilled.

15 thoughts on “Summer Pasta Salad

  1. I am actually not a massive fan of pasta salads because I am not a big fan of vinaigrette. I will eat more creamy pasta salads but tend to avoid the vinegary ones. However, I would give this pasta salad a whirl because I do love balsamic vinegar. I will have to pin this recipe so as to remember to try it. Thanks!

    1. See, I’m exactly the opposite; I prefer the vinaigrettes because I’m not typically a fan of the mayonnaise based dressings. But different strokes for different folks, right?

      Thanks Lauren πŸ™‚

  2. It has been ridiculously hot here in Ann Arbor this week! Hot weather always makes me think of summer picnics and time at the pool. This pasta salad would be perfect for a summer picnic! I love that it doesn’t have any mayo so it could easily sit outside on a hot day. Hope you are having a great summer Jess πŸ™‚

  3. I love the way you have written about summer, vacation and memories! It is amazing how we remember those vacation days from our childhood! Yes, summer for me is synonymous with salads too. Your pasta salad looks great! Thanks for sharing. I have a question however: why use vegetable oil as well instead of just olive oil in the dressing?? Happy FF!

    1. Thank you Suchitra, honestly the two oils are just because some people have difference of preferences about their oils- Extra virgin olive oil does have a distinctive taste and some people in my family like it toned down a little, so I used vegetable oil as well. But using strictly olive oil will definitely work too if you don’t mind the assertiveness of flavor πŸ˜‰

  4. Yup, hot summer days make me think of pasta salad, because that’s what my mom would make for dinner when she knew it was going to be a scorcher of a day! This pasta salad looks phenomenal and packed with flavor!

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