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Lemony Summer Pasta Salad

Irony – as it applies to meal planning – defined: planning to prepare a light and refreshing pasta salad to serve on a hot summer evening, only to discover the following forecast for said evening:

Rain and cool temperatures might not be synonymous with summer BBQ fare, but I was not to be deterred from making this veggie-packed pasta salad.

Whole wheat elbow macaroni is tossed with lightly sauteed zucchini, summer squash, fresh corn, and grape tomatoes.

A tangy & creamy dressing comprised of Greek yogurt, canola oil mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and a double dose of lemon (by way of both zest and juice) is poured over top to complete the salad.

While on the topic of the dressing, let me toss in a quick note. The pasta will absorb some of the yogurt mixture while it chills in the fridge, leaving the salad lightly coated with the dressing. If you’re a fan of the traditional mayo-heavy pasta salad, you might want to double the dressing ingredients; if you do this, I suggest tossing the pasta and veggies with the listed amount of prepared dressing, letting it sit in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld, and then stirring in the additional dressing when you’re ready to serve the salad.

You can also customize the recipe to suit your summer veggie preferences. I happen to love the flavor of squash, and the addition of fresh corn adds a welcomed sweetness; the tomatoes add juiciness as well as a pop of color.

Despite the gloomy weather, we enjoyed the bright flavors of this lemony pasta salad.

Whether it’s rainy and cool or sunny and warm where you are, this fresh side dish (or vegetarian main course) is a great way to embrace the summer season!

Lemony Summer Pasta Salad

Printer-Friendly Recipe

NOTE: I like my pasta salad light on the dressing and heavy on the veggies. If you prefer a heavier hand on the dressing, simply double the amount of yogurt, mayo, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice. After doubling the dressing recipe, toss the pasta and veggies with half, chill in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld, and then stir in the remaining dressing when you’re ready to serve the salad.

yield: 6 generous servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat pasta (any shape you like – I used classic macaroni)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, preferably organic, washed and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 summer squash, preferably organic, washed and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • kernels from 1 ear fresh corn
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes, preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp country-style (course ground) Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 1 large lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1/2 of a large lemon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, preferably al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped squash and corn kernels; cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Remove from heat and toss in the halved grape tomatoes. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the veggies.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the yogurt mixture over the pasta and veggies; toss to coat.
  6. Chill pasta salad in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until the flavors have melded.
  7. Serve cold or at room temperature.
  8. Leftover pasta salad will last, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

213.5 calories, 6 grams fat, 0.8 grams saturated fat, 33.9 grams carbohydrates, 4.5 grams fiber, 1.8 grams sugars, 6 grams protein

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