Come summertime and I spend a seriously unhealthy amount of time thinking of salads for meals.…pasta salads in particular.  An eternal favorite in my house,  I make this at least once a week and in large quantity so I can everyone can have it for lunch the next day.  Believe me, it’s a real blessing to have a bowl of this deliciousness sitting in the refrigerator, ready to be eaten up when the kitchen feels nothing less than a preheated oven cranked to the highest!

 Bright, colorful, vibrant and fresh, this crowd-pleasing dish is a complete meal in itself.  Pasta salads are super duper easy to whip up ( and they look so happy and pretty!).  Really the only time-consuming task (if that) is cooking the pasta.  Once it’s cooked, add any vegetable of your choice…. Broccoli, spinach, zucchini, corn, grilled eggplant, peas, sun-dried tomatoes.  Make it rich in protein and throw in some cooked shredded chicken, cooked prawns, maybe even some flaked fish, or how about grilled tofu?

 If you want to, go ahead, top it with crumbled feta, grated parmesan, cubed mozzarella, soft goat cheese, toasted almonds or pine nuts. Add different layers of textures and flavors to it, you can use what you have at home.  When I made this salad, I had half an avocado in my fridge and some garlicky sautéed amaranth, so the salad was served with those….and how good it was!!

Summer Pasta Salad w/ Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

A quick word about the pasta.  When you’re cooking it, remember to salt the boiling water and cook it till it’s just done, else you’ll end up with a mushy mess!  Once you’ve drained it, rinse it in cold water and toss in some olive oil so the pasta won’t stick.

This salad has the tangiest onion slivers in it.  I usually soak one large sliced onion in one part red wine vinegar, one part warm water, half teaspoon salt & sugar for at least 20 mins.  Then I drain it off and am left with this amazing pickled onion.  This goes in salads,  on sandwiches, and is eaten with our sabji…yummmm!

And the dressing is a dream!  Robust garlic flavor, aromatic fresh basil, sharp lemon juice, all gets rounded off nicely with sweet tangy balsamic vinegar!!  Making your own salad dressings is really simple.  It’s also far healthier and cheaper than that bottled stuff available in the market.  It offers you the versatility to change the taste per your liking, you get to control the sugar and sodium content and best of all, its made without any preservatives or additives.

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Summer Pasta Salad w/ Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

Servings: 4 people
Author: Natasha Minocha

Ingredients

  • 300 gms Wholewheat Pasta
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, julienned
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, juilenned
  • 1 Onion, pickled
  • 100 gms Cherry Tomatoes cut in half
  • Handful of parsley

Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 20/25 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta as per the directions. Drain it and keep aside.
  • Once the pasta is cooled, add in the vegetables - red and yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and pickled onions.
  • Toss with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with parsley. Serve cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Vinaigrette

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse till a coarse sauce is formed. Taste and adjust for seasoning.