Why, exactly, do we like pasta salads? I mean, pasta salad is generally kind of a hot mess: Too much pasta, over- or under-cooked vegetables, goopy bottled Italian salad dressing. Yech.
For me, pasta salad has to meet a few basic requirements in order to go on my plate at a picnic. The right balance of veggies to pasta (I like a 2-to-1 ratio). An interesting mix of vegetables. The right kind of pasta (orzo, tiny shells or other small shape). A light hand with the dressing.
This green pasta salad meets all of those criteria, with a blend of summery vegetables, cooked crisp-tender, dressed simply with lemon juice, zest and olive oil. Try this for your next summer potluck!
pasta salad with zucchini, edamame and green beans
(serves 4 generously)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame or green peas
1 1/2 cups fresh slender green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup small dried pasta (orzo, Israeli couscous, O-shapes)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. plus 3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add edamame and green beans; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables to a colander; set the colander in the sink and run cold water over them to stop cooking. Drain the vegetables and transfer them to a large bowl. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta; cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the vegetables.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil until it shimmers; add the diced zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, until the zucchini begins to brown and turns translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the garlic and zucchini to the bowl with the edamame, green beans and pasta.
In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, zest and 3 Tbsp. of good olive oil. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and several grinds of your pepper mill. Pour dressing over the pasta and vegetables and toss gently to coat. Taste and adjust seasonings, and add the basil. Transfer pasta salad to a pretty serving bowl or platter and serve at room temperature.
- diced avocado
- toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
- halved cherry tomatoes
- other summer herbs: fresh chives, thyme, parsley
- sliced scallion
- fresh corn, cut off the cob and cooked with the green beans
- Feta or goat cheese