A perfect, mayo-free pasta salad that is perfect for a picnic or a backyard barbecue side!
Originally posted on August 5, 2011. Updated on April 20, 2019
As spring is upon us, and summer is fast approching, that means that picnics and backyard barbecues are soon to be in full swing. And one thing that is absolutely necessary for both, are good side dishes.
For now, let’s focus on the picnic aspect. Today I have joined together with a group of bloggers from Our Family Table to share portable picnic food recipes, And this pasta salad, my friends, is portable and delicious. No mayo or cheese, so no need to worry about keeping it cold and the flavor is out of this world.
I am not a fan of mayo-based pasta salads. Not that there is anything wrong with them, it’s just not my thang. I don’t really like potato salad either, so there’s that. So, several years ago, I decided to make a pasta salad that I would love. A vinegar-based pasta salad with veggies and fresh herbs.
It can be served cold or room temp, and the longer it sits, the better it tastes. So, making it a day (or two) ahead, is a great idea. And, if you are so inclined, you can add some grilled chicken and make this an entree pasta salad!
I like to use tri-colored rotini noodles for this pasta salad, but you can you another shape if you prefer. I just have a fondness for rotini- or spiral noodles as we called them when I was a kid growing up – because my mama used to make us “tornado noodles”, and the tri-colored are made of veggies as well, so they have and added healthy aspect.
Pasta, red wine vinegar, sauteed zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil are what make this pasta salad something special that you will want to have in your picnic basket or backyard barbecue.
How do you make pasta salad without mayo dressing?
1 – Cook pasta noodles and set aside to cool.
2 – Slice zucchini into rounds and saute in olive oil for a couple of minutes, then cut the rounds into halves.
3 – Halve cherry tomatoes and slice fresh basil.
4 – Combine red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl to make the dressing.
5 – Toss pasta, veggies, and dressing in a large bowl and add a squeeze of lemon.
6 – Refrigerate until ready to serve (overnight, if possible!)
7- Give it a good stir to redistribute the dressing before serving.
Be sure to check out all the other great portable picnic food recipes from Our Family Table, below!
Portable Picnic Food
- Apple Rose Tarts by Simply Inspired Meals
- Carrot Kholrabi Cole Slaw by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Pan Bagna by Our Good Life
- Peach Crumble Bars by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Sour Cream and Chive Deviled Eggs by Cheese Curd In Paradise
- Spring Smörgåsbord by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Summer Pasta Salad by Sweet Beginnings
- Tuna Antipasto by Art of Natural Living
- White Chocolate Ganache Filled Strawberries by Home Sweet Homestead
Are you ready for that recipe now? Here you go!
Summer Pasta Salad
- 2 cups tri-color Rotini or Fusilli Noodles
- 2 Zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- 1 1/2 cups Cherry or Plum Tomatoes, halved
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup + 1 tsp Olive Oil, divided
- 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
- ½ Lemon, optional
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package instructions, to al dente.
- Lightly sauté zucchini using 1 teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt & pepper, then cut each round into halves or quarters.
- Mix olive oil & vinegar together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
- Toss pasta, zucchini, and tomatoes in a large bowl with the dressing. Season with salt & pepper, add basil and stir.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes, squeeze lemon over pasta (if desired), toss and serve!