Friday Recipe Exchange: Summer Salads

jeffreyw pasta salad

JeffreyW makes an easy pasta salad. Just toss garden veggies and pasta with a little olive oil, vinegar and herbs. Dinner’s done.


From our Food Godddess, TaMara:

In my email this morning there was a nice recipe for pasta salad and suddenly I had a craving for a veggie filled summer pasta salad. Pasta salads can be served cold, warm or hot, depending on what you’re looking for and what style of ingredients are added. The featured recipe tonight is a warm pasta salad using garden fresh vegetables and melted cheese.

This appealed to me because one of my clients has given me a big hunk of the most amazing cheese. I have no idea what it is, except it’s clearly a very sharp white cheddar in a black rind. It’s a creamy and salty, best I’ve ever had and goes great with apples and strawberries. It melts beautifully and crumbles like feta on salads. I’ll be sad when it’s gone. But…

I live within walking distance of a great cheese shop, it has an entire room that is basically a walk-in refrigerator. They even lend you jackets to wear while shopping. It’s fun to stop by there on a hot summer day and spend a half hour in the fridge and sample cheese from around the world and from local farms. I think I’ll see if they can help me identify or duplicate the cheese. Side note: I’ll miss everything that is within walking distance when I move. Right now I live near downtown and can walk to bank, post office and any number of great restaurants. But it’s the trade off for more space and a functional bike path.

On to the recipes.

First up, Chipotle Macaroni Salad (recipe here), which takes cold pasta salad up a notch and has become my go-to cookout salad.

One of the keys when making a good cold pasta salad is to cook the pasta al dente, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and then drain again, but let the pasta stay wet. This allows the pasta to absorb whatever flavors are added, but not absorb all the moisture from the dressing. Don’t toss with dressing until just before serving. Taking these steps will keep the salad moist and flavorful, avoiding the mushy pasta, dry salad problem that makes many pasta salads unappetizing.

Not excited about pasta? How about a nice Italian Lentil Salad (here) or a tangy Apple Salad (here).

What’s on your menu for the first day of summer? Have any favorite salad recipes (pasta or otherwise)? I am crazy about salads, so would love to have a few new varitions to add to my recipe box.

Tonight’s featured recipe is adapted from an American Test Kitchen recipe. I’d link to the original, but it’s behind a firewall. Sorry for that.

Summer Vegetable Pasta

The beauty of this recipe is you can substitute whatever vegetables are fresh and available.

12 oz of favorite pasta (penne, large shells, rotelle, etc)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 to 3 tsp crushed garlic (depending on your preference)
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 small summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
5 ounce package Garlic & Herb Boursin cheese – or any creamy cheese, flavored or you can add your own fresh herbs to it instead – I actually used the cheddar mentioned above because it melts so well, and is really creamy, not like typical cheddar.
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (more as desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese as garnish
Dutch oven or large saucepan

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente (this is a still chewy texture). Reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta (the easiest way to do this is to ladle pasta water into a measuring cup and then drain the remaining water).

Wipe out the pan, add oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add zucchini, summer squash, and ¼ cup reserved pasta water and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta, and cheese, remaining 1/2 cup pasta water, tomatoes and basil until pasta is heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan. Serves 4.

Have a great weekend – TaMara

50 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    I like to make raw corn, mater’s and basil salad with just a bit of vinegar.

  2. 2
    SuperHrefna says:

    Here is my favorite salad of the moment, a vaguely Persian yam salad.

    For the dressing: combine 1 tb honey, 1 tb rose water and 1/3 cup olive oil. Set aside.

    In a really big bowl toss lots of spinach and arugula or any other sturdy salad green (last time I used a bunch of tatsoi I got at the farmers market), 200g of crumbled or chopped feta, two drained and rinsed cans of canellini beans, a julienned red bell pepper, a minced jalapeño, plenty of tomatoes, finely sliced salad onions and whatever fresh herbs you have to hand.

    Then finely slice a big fat yam and fry it up in oil and salt until tender.

    Toss the hot yam slices and the dressing into the salad. It is so good, and the leftovers are yummy too. It keeps for days in the fridge. The rose honey dressing is subtle but utterly delightful!

  3. 3
    Yatsuno says:

    I put this up last week for Mnemosyne, but it was really late in the thread. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared it before too.

    Corn & Black Bean Salad

    3 ears corn, cooked until just tender

    1 16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

    1 large tomato, seeded & diced

    1 bunch green onions, chopped

    ¼ cup cilantro, chopped fine

    2 cloves garlic, grated fine

    ½ tsp ground oregano, preferably Mexican

    Juice of 1 lime

    Salt & Pepper to taste

    2 avocadoes, diced

    Mix together all ingredients except avocadoes, allow to sit in refrigerator four hours or overnight. Right before serving, fold in avocadoes and adjust seasoning as necessary. Corn can be sautéed after kernels are removed, roasted on cobs, or boiled.

  4. 4
    raven says:

    @Yatsuno: If it’s really fresh corn it would be good just cut off of the cobs raw.

  5. 5
    MomSense says:



    I roasted some kohlrabi tonight with olive oil, salt/pepper, garlic, and for the last 6 minutes parmesan cheese. It was tasty.

    Got a bunch of greens, radishes, peas, herbs, tatsoi, kale, cabbage, purple carrots, etc. Will probably make a big salad of some kind tomorrow.

  6. 6
    Cassidy says:

    Just made a fresh fruit salad two nights ago with jerk chicken grilled sweet potato slices. Best $40 I’ve spent lately.

  7. 7
    MomSense says:


    I’m thinking the really sweet–white kernel corn. It is tender and might work raw.

  8. 8
    Amir Khalid says:

    I read this

    I live within walking distance of a great cheese shop

    and immediately thought of this.

  9. 9
    Marvel says:

    Raven — I’m with you re corn salad — can’t wait ’til the corn’s ripe!


    5 ears corn, cooked (boil ears 5 minutes) & shucked
    1/2 C red onion, diced
    3 T apple cider vinegar
    3 T good olive oil
    1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    1/2 C basil leaves, julienned
    1/2 C cherry tomatoes, quartered
    1/4 C bacon bits

    Combine & chill.

    Serves: 4-6

  10. 10
    pat says:

    One can of black beans, rinsed. Leave in the colander and add one cup frozen corn. Let it sit until the corn is thawed and you are ready to proceed. Add about one third of a red pepper, diced, some pea pods sliced about one-half inch long (gives a nice crunch). Cilantro or parsley if you have it (I avoid raw onions….) Can add some cooked orzo (one-half cup raw orzo is plenty) Can be dressed with olive oil and lemon juice or just olive oil. Finally, toss in a lot of crumbled feta cheese.

  11. 11

    Tomato and red onion salad
    1 pound tomatoes
    1/2 red onion
    cilantro to garnish
    Juice of 1/2 lime

    Variation II
    Instead of cilantro add basil to garnish
    Add fresh mozzarella and olive oil

  12. 12
    raven says:

    @Marvel: Stuff coming up from south Georgia was good last week.

  13. 13
    MomSense says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    That is a great salad. The greek version is good too with tomato, red onion, cucumber, green bell pepper, feta cheese and fresh oregano.

    I do a dressing with olive oil and lemon juice

  14. 14

    Not a salad but a great summer drink
    Mango Lassi

  15. 15
    raven says:

    @MomSense: Silver queen is what we had!

  16. 16

    @MomSense: That sounds good. I would probably leave the bell peppers out since I don’t like them raw.

  17. 17
    Luna Sea says:

    Does anybody have recipes or meal recommendations/advice for recovering from surgery? I’ve googled my fingers off but I’m not finding much that’s appealing. Have to get some nutrition, but so far the best meal has been a bowl of cereal. I’m on week 2 after hysterectomy for endometrial cancer. Oh, and I don’t eat beef or pork and have to watch blood sugar levels. How’s that for being demanding? Can’t drive for another month, so shopping depends on my sisters, and cooking has to be quick and relatively light (as in no heavy lifting), so this whole thing is a bit more challenging than I thought it’d be. Must admit that pasta salad looks good…. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  18. 18
    MomSense says:



    @schrodinger’s cat:

    My kids love bell peppers–so I give them all of mine. I don’t like them raw either.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    MomSense says:

    @Luna Sea:

    After my hysterectomy I couldn’t eat very much and nothing tasted good to me except soup.

    What kinds of things are you craving??

    And I’m sending you healing energy and best wishes for a full recovery.

  21. 21
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Luna Sea: Hope you recover quickly! After surgeries I’ve had in the past my favorite meals have been fairly liquid. Like a nut milk smoothie. My fave: 8oz light coconut milk ( or a mixture of regular coconut milk and some other milk) 3tbs chopped dates, 3tbs almond butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla and the teeny-tiniest pinch of salt. Add enough ice to bring the blender to two cups and give it a whiz. It is really filling and not too sweet.

    Or a nice minestrone. My favorite is a green minestrone bursting with fennel: sauté a minced onion with lots of ground black pepper and a tsp of fennel seeds. Add vegetable stock, diced celery, fennel and turnip ( and chopped green beans, frozen peas, chopped asparagus, whatever you like, really), a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans and a quarter cup of tiny soup pasta ( or broken spaghetti if that is easier). Cook until everything is tender and then stir in some chopped fresh spinach and some fresh basil if you have it. So good. Esp with Parmesan on top.

    If that is too complex a soup, my fave easy soup really couldn’t be simpler or healthier. Peel an onion, chop it into chunks, put it in a cooking pot. Chunk a few carrots, a turnip, 3 or 4 stalks of celery and a zucchini and throw them in there too. You’re going to purée them so it doesn’t matter what they look like or how big they are. And it’s silly to peel the veggies in a soup like this. Add some fresh parsley if you have it and peeled garlic cloves if you like. Toss in a cupful of red lentils. Then cover it all in vegetable stock and cook until everything is soft, about 20 mins. Once it is all soft, whizz it up into a nice soup with your immersion blender. It’s so good with bread and cheese and it really couldn’t be simpler to make, if you want it get fancy grind in some black pepper, but it probably won’t need salt, stock is usually plenty salty.

  22. 22
    Luna Sea says:

    MomSense: not sure I’m craving anything yet, really, except fruit and/or cold stuff (thus the cereal). One day I really wanted chicken & mashed potatoes, so had that and now not sure I want to see it again for quite some time. I think I might be doing smoothies soon so I can get some protein in while keeping it light. Did I mention hot flashes? Yeah, those are fun. Thank you for the energy and wishes, too — really appreciate it.

  23. 23
    karen says:

    When it’s blueberry and strawberry season, since I can’t have dark leafy greens because it can cause me more kidney stones, I make a salad with iceberg lettuce, blueberries and strawberries and cucumbers, based on a salad Panera has in the summer. Panera uses a fuji apple dressing with it so I’m going to try to see how I can make that at home.

  24. 24
    Luna Sea says:

    @SuperHrefna: great ideas! Thank you! May do that smoothie tomorrow.

  25. 25
    Luna Sea says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Thank you. The yogurt rice looks interesting, may give that a shot.

  26. 26
    Helen says:

    @Luna Sea: Dunno about nutrition after surgery. But in terms if protein – I don’t (can’t) cook protein because I am so scared of undercooking it and killing myself with somonila (sp?) that I always overcook it. So for protein I make protein shakes. You need 1 gram of protein for every 1/2 pound you weigh. So if you weigh 150 lib you need 75 grams of protein. You want Whey protein, not soy protein. When you make it with milk, cinnamon and splenda and mix it good, it tastes like a milkshake. Also I put macha green tea in it. I do not want to advocate the benefits of green tea cuz I am not a Dr., but I believe in the benefits of it.

    Good Luck. One of my best friends (age 44) just had a mastectomy and in my family’s life cancer is our companion. We all get it. All the best. Be healthy.

  27. 27
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Luna Sea: Speaking of cereal, have you tried Weetabix? It’s an old British standby that you used not to be able to get here but they sell it at lots of places now, like Trader Joes. Britons are literally weaned onto this stuff. If you add milk to it it’s a very healthy mush, and has a nice neutral wheaty taste suitable for dressing up with fruit or sliced almonds or whatever you like.

  28. 28
    scav says:

    @SuperHrefna: those immersion blender soups can be fun, flexible and some are good cold. For a change, Weird as it sounds, I’ve made some good ones that were heavy on the leafy greens, it’s a spring thing in France. Can be thickened with milk, cream too. Throw in little peas for texture? In Spring I’d make it with whatever weedy greens sowed up first at market (dandelions, etc).

  29. 29
    Luna Sea says:

    @Helen: thank you, hadn’t thought about throwing green tea in the mix, good idea. And best wishes to you and your family, and your friend. It is kind of amazing how prevalent it is. I was surprised how many people were in the waiting room at the oncologist, all for similar cancers. But that meant all the medical folks had lots of practice…

  30. 30
    Luna Sea says:

    @SuperHrefna: haven’t tried it, but it’ll go on my list for Trader Joe’s. Thank you.

  31. 31
    Helen says:

    @Luna Sea: Thank you. And one more thing. I used to work at Memorial Sloan Kettering (in administration; I worked with the researchers), here in NYC. You will never find more dedicated professionals than there are in the cancer curing business (for lack of a better phrase). Those people are amazing. They are the smartest people in the world and can make 5 times what they make at a non-profit and they choose to be in healthcare. I have nothing but undying respect for them. We are very close to cancer being, if not cured, then manageable (like AIDS).

    Again; good luck.

  32. 32
    rikyrah says:

    Love the recipe suggestions

  33. 33
    Angela says:

    @Luna Sea: I love watermelon after surgery. And protein smoothies. And hummus with carrot sticks.

    Here’s to solid recovery. Sending you good energy and best wishes.

  34. 34
    jibeaux says:

    Whoever lives in a place where you can get fresh local cherries, please have a few and think of me. I was going to drive some distance to get some this weekend, but they were picked out in like four days. I could already TASTE them.

  35. 35
    MikeJ says:

    @jibeaux: I haven’t seen any Rainiers around yet this year, but I saw some red variety yesterday. Cherry season will start in earnest when the roadside back of the pickup cherry guy sets up.

  36. 36
    Marvel says:

    @Luna Sea: Easy-peasy chile rellanos casserole:

    7oz can diced green chile peppers (or 2 fresh Anaheims)
    1/2 lb grated sharp cheddar
    2 slightly beaten eggs
    2 C milk
    1/2 C flour
    1 tsp salt

    Preheat oven to 350˚.

    If using fresh chiles, sauté until soft.

    Butter casserole; line with peppers and sprinkle with cheese.

    Mix eggs, milk, salt and flour; pour over cheese.

    Bake about 50 minutes, until golden & set.

  37. 37
    Luna Sea says:

    @Angela: ooh, I forgot about watermelon. Since I can’t go to the store yet, I’m relying on memory of foods. Since that just made my mouth water, think it’s going on the list. As is hummus. Thank you for the ideas & wishes.

    @Marvel: easy-peasy is good, thank you!

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Luna Sea: Listen to your body. Eat what is appealing to you at this time. If it is ice cream, herring, and/or hummus, go for it.

  39. 39
    NotMax says:


    I don’t (can’t) cook protein because I am so scared of undercooking it and killing myself with somonila (sp?) that I always overcook it.

    No necessary reason to limit your choices while cooking at home (where you have control of who handles the food and how) over inflated fears. Might one suggest a local cooking for beginners course (even if you are not a beginner cook)? Becoming familiar with and habitually using a meat thermometer will greatly allay untoward fear.

    Salmonella can also be present on contaminated raw fruits, vegetables, spices and nuts, as well as found in pet foods and per treats, so shying from cooking meats is no guarantee of eliminating risk of cross-contamination in the home kitchen.

    It takes a sizable amount of live bacteria surviving proper prep, cooking heat and then stomach acids to cause evident symptoms in otherwise healthy adults – informed food handling, cooking and storage, and using soap and water on prep surfaces reduces the chances of even mild illness to extremely low levels.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Four hours without a new post? Are they not afraid of revolution? I blame the lack of DougJ and his calls for Robespierre.

  41. 41
    srv says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I think Doug is just fleeing in the face of another color revolution as our absentee dictator is drunk on cat nip and ignores the needs of his peoples.

    Dark days ahead for y’all. I’ll be drinking in Napa all weekend between land taming efforts. But I will look out over the hills and frown occasionally at your plight.

  42. 42
    Josie says:

    Thanks for the easy chiles rellenos casserole. I love chiles rellenos and am just too lazy to make them. I am making this tonight. Yum.

  43. 43
    Elizabelle says:

    Great recipes, all. Thanks much, and trying a few.

    Summer summer summer.

  44. 44
    Elizabelle says:


    Persian yam salad sounds fab, although I’m not a feta fan.

    Gonna make this this week and report back.

  45. 45
    Elizabelle says:

    @Luna Sea:

    Good luck to you for a comfortable and speedy recovery.

    Fingers crossed for you, and please keep us apprised of your progress. Cheers.

  46. 46
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Elizabelle: Sub in something you like! If what you sub in isn’t as salty as feta you might find the salad needs a sprinkle of salt as well.

  47. 47
    Elizabelle says:


    Thank you. Any suggestions? Thinking maybe an aged Cheddar, or even a blue, and extra salt (if needed; I don’t salt food as much as others).

    Anyway: yum.

  48. 48
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Elizabelle: I’m a bad person to ask for cheese substitutions, feta is one of the few cheeses I like! Cheddar is another cheese I like, but I’m not sure I’d put it in here, I think an aged cheddar might drown out the notes of rose and honey.

  49. 49
    Luna Sea says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): good advice, thanks. Except for the herring, perhaps…

    @Elizabelle: thank you! Will definitely share any survival tips I learn along the way.

  50. 50
    grumpy realist says:

    Chick-pea salad

    1 cup dry garbanzos (soak for 8 hours or more in water with a pinch baking soda added, simmer 15 minutes or more until done, drain, rinse in cold water.) (Makes roughly 3 cups if you want to substitute canned garbanzos.)

    1-3 chopped green onions (depending on how oniony you like your salad)
    1/2-1 red pepper, chopped. 1/2-1 green pepper or cucumber, diced.

    1/2 bunch finely chopped cilantro if you like cilantro, otherwise use parsley.

    dressing: salt, ground pepper, olive oil and more lemon juice than you’ll think you would ever need. (at least two lemons) Lemon zest.

    Mix all together and let sit an hour or so. This keeps well and just gets better.

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