The Perfect Summer Pasta Salad

Keep cool this summer with a delicious pasta salad tossed with all the fresh produce of the season. A tasty combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and peppers, a lean protein and whole grain pasta help make this an easy, healthy & delicious lunch or dinner.

Summer Pasta Salad | 2 Cookin Mamas This salad will keep you cool & healthy. Plenty of fresh veggies, lean protein and whole grain pasta. Perfect for summer! #recipe

Most people think of pasta as a warm comfort food that is great to have in the winter but if they haven’t tried a cold pasta salad in the summer they are missing something sensational!

Summer Pasta Salad deconstructed | 2 Cookin Mamas

Besides being cold, which is a good thing when the thermometer reaches 95 degrees, this salad has plenty of fresh vegetables and lean protein which makes it the perfect “get in bikini shape” lunch or dinner. I mean what could be better than vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh out of the garden bell peppers and cucumbers, basil from my herb garden that, by the way, is going bananas and zucchini. I wish I still had some arugula but it kinda died in the heat. I do have some butter crunch lettuce that is still surviving but the arugula seems to go better in this salad.

Summer Pasta Salad 3 | 2 Cookin Mamas

I used a whole wheat pasta this time around, packing the meal with additional protein, fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants. Studies have shown that a diet rich in whole grains helps reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some cancers. I’ve also used quinoa pasta on occasion, which provides additional protein, and rice pasta is also an option. It never fails to come out delicious whatever grain you decide to use.

Summer Pasta Salad serving | 2 Cookin Mamas

I think one of the things I like most about this salad is that all the veggies and pasta get coated with a deliciously cheesy and seasoned olive oil that keeps it light but oh so flavorful. And it’s great for picnics, potluck dinners or just a simple lunch or dinner at home.

If you are on a big salad kick (like me) or it’s too hot to cook, don’t stop with this salad, try some of our other healthy options like our Hearty Quinoa Salad or Mandarin Chicken Salad. You’ll still be enjoying a healthy, tasty and light dinner that is perfect for the summer heat. Enjoy!

Summer Pasta Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Keep cool this summer with a fresh pasta salad. Combine fresh vegetables, lean protein and whole grain pasta for an easy, healthy & delicious dinner.

20 minPrep Time

10 minCook Time

30 minTotal Time

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  • 1/2 lb. whole grain pasta (use gluten-free pasta if needed)
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 - 1 red bell pepper or a combination of red, yellow and orange bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 large red or sweet onion, diced
  • 1 small can sliced ripe olives, drained (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup arugula, chopped (optional)
  • 2 chicken breasts, grilled or rotisserie style, chopped
  • Dressing
  • 8-oz favorite Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pimenton or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • Pinch garlic powder


  1. Cook pasta according to directions on box. Pour into colander, rinse and let drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all vegetables then toss with pasta. Add chicken and mix well.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients together.
  4. Pour over pasta salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese if desired.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil.


Summer Pasta Salad pin | 2 Cookin Mamas This salad will keep you cool & healthy. Plenty of fresh veggies, lean protein and whole grain pasta. Perfect for summer! #recipe

What’s your favorite go-to summer meal?


  1. grace says:
    i always serve pasta salad as a side and it has never even occurred to me to add chicken to the salad itself--great idea! :)
  2. allisonarnone says:
    I'm such a big pasta salad person & often make them as a side for all BBQs/summer gatherings I attend :) Always looking for new and exciting variations- this looks delish!

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