No summer picnic plate is complete without a heaping scoop of flavor-packed pasta salad. This classic side complements all of your BBQ favorites, including burgers, hot dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches. Just like regular ol' pasta, this dish can be made in a number of ways. Our favorite: Pasta salad loaded with pesto and grilled veggies.
Picking the pasta is the first — and most important — step. We recommend choosing shorter shapes that have nooks and crannies to trap the pesto and mix-ins. Our Test Kitchen's picks are fusilli, mini farfalle, and tubettini, but you could also use penne or shells.
No one wants crunchy or soggy noodles. To prevent this rookie mistake, cook the pasta a minute or two past al dente until it's fully cooked through with no white core. By the time you let the pasta cool, it will reach the perfect consistency.
Serving perishable food on a hot day is no easy feat. To prevent the pasta from spoiling, serve the salad on smaller plates. Once one plate is empty, you can swap it out for the plate that's been keeping cool in the fridge. Genius? We think so. This dish also follows "the fresher, the better" policy. In other words, prep right before you serve.
Now that you know the basics, it's time to dive into our tried-and-tested pasta salad recipe.
There are two reasons to give this pasta salad a try: 1. It adds color to any BBQ and 2. It's packed with pesto (a.k.a magic). Follow along with this video to learn how to make this veggie-loaded side.
Ingredients you'll need:
• 1 lb. fusilli (corkscrew) pasta (you can make it from scratch!)
• 1 lemon
• 2/3 c. store-bought refrigerated or homemade pesto
• 2 small zucchini, halved
• 1 small yellow squash, halved
• 1 small bell pepper, quartered and seeds removed
• 4 scallions, trimmed
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
• 1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Tools you'll need:
• Large pot ($23, )
• Strainer ($20, )
• Zester and grater ($10, )
• Juicer ($16, )
• Large mi bowl ($12 for three, )
• Silicone spatula ($9, )
• Cutting board ($15, )
• Chef's knife ($12, )
• Grill pan ($19, )
• Tongs ($13 for two, )
Boil water and 1 teaspoon salt. Follow the package directions for al dente, adding one extra minute, and strain pasta.
Grate the lemon's zest into the large bowl and then squeeze in the juice. Using a silicone spatula, add your homemade or store-bought refrigerated pesto () to the warm pasta. The best option: Mix in 2/3 of the pesto when the pasta is warm and save the remainder for when you're about to serve.
While the pasta is cooling, halve the zucchini and squash, quarter the bell peppers and remove the seeds, and trim the scallions.
In a large bowl, toss the zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and scallions with oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Grill the zucchini, squash, and pepper until charred and just tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Then, add the scallions, grilling them until slightly charred (about 1 or 2 minutes).
Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board and cut them into bite-size pieces. Once the pasta is cool, fold in the grilled vegetables along with halved grape tomatoes and chopped parsley. Buon appetito!
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