Summer officially begins on June 21, but you’d never know it here in Florida. It’s already super hot. Today, it’s in the 90s, and with the humidity, it feels like it’s 110!
Since we have entered the season for outdoor entertaining, I thought I’d use this colorful, light-but-filling pasta salad recipe to kick off a new series for the blog: Seasonal Summer Salads. Whether you’re hosting a party, or going to one and you want to bring a side dish, this series will feature tried and true recipes that are fresh, safe for outdoor entertaining, and delicious for all ages.
Grilled Summer Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad
I love pasta salad and so does my little Maddie. We call her our pasta baby because she never turns down a bowl full of noodles.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to making a delicious pasta salad. This particular recipe is perfect for this time of year because it’s full of fresh, seasonal, summer vegetables.
To prepare the salad, I marinate the veggies in a homemade vinegar/olive oil mix that I use quite often on just about everything, and then grill them. Stan is really the grill-master in our home. One time, years ago, I wanted to have a grilled meal ready for him when he got home, so I went outside, turned on the grill, and nearly singed off all my hair in the process. Since that experience, I leave the outdoor grilling to him.
He wasn’t home when I made this, so I used my trusty indoor grilling pan. I love it. I can achieve the beautiful grill marks that make it look authentic, and do so in the comfort of my bug-free, air conditioned kitchen.
BLW Note: Maddie is one year old, and she has been eating this and recipes like it since she was six months. Everything in this recipe is safe for 6 months plus (if you are doing BLW), except the honey. Just omit it from the recipe.
Without further ado, here’s the recipe:
For the Marinade:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey (omit if serving to a child under one year old)
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- Teaspoon each of salt, pepper, and garlic powder
For the Pasta Salad:
- 1 lb of pasta of your choice – I used fusilli
- 3 ears of corn (I found non-GMO at Trader Joe’s)
- 1 zucchini, sliced length wise into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 squash, sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 red pepper, sliced width-wise into ¼ inch pieces
- 2 carrots, sliced in half lengthwise and width-wise
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- ½ cup artichoke hearts, quartered
- ½ cup Kalamata olives, quartered
- ½ – 1 cup of Popeye’s Powerful Pesto
To make the marinade, whisk all the ingredients until incorporated. I like to do it in a large Pyrex dish, so I can put the lid on and pop it in the fridge.
Put all your washed vegetables (except the broccoli, artichokes and olives) in the marinade and toss so everything is coated. Cover, and put in the fridge for at least half an hour, and up to 24 hours.
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil for your pasta.
Before you grill the veggies, let them come to room temp. I put the veggies straight on the grill since there is oil in the marinade. I cooked the corn and the carrots together, because they take the longest. I like to cook the carrots until they are soft since Maddie is eating it. I rotated the corn, so it was charred on all sides, and flipped the carrots when they were charred to my liking on each side.
When those were finished, I grilled the squash, zucchini, and then finished with the peppers. It really doesn’t take long to char these because they are so thin.
When all the veggies were finished, I cut the corn kernels off the cob, and cut the rest of the grilled veggies into bite size pieces.
Boil your pasta according to package instructions. When you’re 15 seconds from draining it, add your broccoli to the pot, and stir so it is submerged in the water. It should immediately turn a vibrant shade of green. Drain right away.
Meanwhile, mix the remaining marinade with the Popeye’s Powerful Pesto until incorporated. Use your judgement on how much pesto you need. You don’t want it to be drenched in sauce, but you don’t want it to be too dry. I say start with half a cup, and if needed, add more once all the ingredients are combined.
Taste it, and add any additional salt, pepper, or garlic powder you feel it needs.
Note: obviously, you can use a store-bought pesto if you don’t have time to make Popeye’s Powerful Pesto. However, it’s really delicious and super healthy. It’s a little creamy from the avocado, and packed with iron, vitamins and nutrients, which is great for the whole family, especially the little ones.
Toss all the ingredients in the sauce, and Voila! It’s ready to eat.
I like to make a double portion, so I can have it in the fridge throughout the week. It’s a quick and easy snack, great to bring to work for lunch, and great to give the kiddos for school lunch with some beans or chopped chicken for protein.
I hope you enjoy it! If you decide to make it, please let me know how it goes.
Next in this Seasonal Summer Salads series is my Watermelon, Mango, and Watercress Salad. It’s refreshing, delicious, and perfect for a hot day!
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