3 Picnic-Perfect Pasta Salad Recipes

Refresh your pasta-salad repertoire with veggie-packed recipes you can whip up fast—perfect for beach days and picnic lunches.
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Avocado Pesto Pasta

Vegan
Serves 6

Avocado and tahini create a rich base for this creamy dish that’s packed with fiber. Ribbons of cantaloupe and cucumber make for fresh final touches.

INGREDIENTS 
12 oz whole-grain or chickpea pasta
1 avocado
3 tbsp tahini
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tomatoes, diced
1/4 lb baby greens, such as arugula
1/2 cantaloupe, cut into cubes or ribbons
1 large cucumber, cut into ribbons
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves and stems

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Cook pasta as directed on package. 
2. In a food processor, blend avocado, tahini, zest, lemon juice, oil, garlic salt, black pepper, and 1/4 cup cold water until smooth. 
3. In a bowl, toss pasta with avocado pesto and tomatoes. 
4. Arrange baby greens on a platter and top with pasta, cantaloupe, cucumber, pine nuts, and cilantro. 

NUTRITIONAL INFO
384 calories per serving, 15 g fat (2 g saturated), 56 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 12 g protein, 148 mg sodium

See also Vegan Cashew Pesto with Whole Grain Pasta

Strawberry–Tomato–Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Vegetarian

Serves 6

Tangy tomatoes, sweet berries, and a savory sauce hit all the right flavor notes.

INGREDIENTS

12 oz quinoa pasta

2/3 cup 2-percent plain Greek yogurt

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp poppy seeds

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp onion powder

Olive oil cooking spray

1/2 lb asparagus, thinly sliced

1/2 lb watercress

1 quart strawberries, sliced

1/2 lb cherry tomatoes

1/2 lb mozzarella, cubed

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup packed basil  

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cook pasta as directed. 

2. In a bowl, whisk yogurt, vinegar, poppy seeds, oil, garlic salt, and onion powder. 

3. In a skillet coated with cooking spray, cook asparagus over medium heat, 4 minutes. 

4. Combine pasta, sauce, asparagus, and watercress; top with remaining ingredients. 

NUTRITIONAL INFO

11 calories per serving, 11 g fat (5 g saturated), 61 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 19 g protein, 388 mg sodium

See also Zucchini "Pasta" with Mint Pesto

Sriracha Chicken Pasta Salad

Omnivore

Serves 6

Spicy sriracha sauce brings the barbecue to this cookout-worthy pasta. Sweet summer corn and bell peppers help keep sriracha’s heat in check.

INGREDIENTS 

12 oz whole-grain or brown-rice pasta

1/4 cup sriracha

3 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 limes, zest and juice

4 tomatoes, diced

1 cup fresh corn kernels

2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 (6 oz) skinless, boneless
chicken breasts

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil cooking spray

2 zucchinis, cut in half

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cook pasta as directed. 

2. In a bowl, whisk sriracha, oil, tomato paste, zest, and lime juice. 

3. In another bowl, toss pasta with half the sriracha mixture. Add tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, and scallions to pasta and toss. 

4. Season chicken with garlic salt and black pepper. 

5. Coat grill rack or pan with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Grill chicken and zucchini, turning, until chicken has grill marks and zucchini is tender, 8–10 minutes. 

6. Brush chicken with reserved sriracha mixture; grill again until cooked through, 2 minutes. 

7. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest, 5 minutes. Slice chicken and zucchini and serve over the pasta.

NUTRITIONAL INFO 

12 g fat (2 g saturated), 32 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 17 g protein, 636 mg sodium

See also Roasted Vegetable and Orzo Salad with Basil, Pine Nuts, and Parmesan