The Best Summer Pasta Salad

Best Summer Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

You must know by now I love pasta salads.

There's something so fresh about them. No heavy sauces, just some pesto or a little herby oil mixed through cold pasta with salad or vegetables.

The ingredients really are the star if the show. It's filling too, so great for dinner and lunch the next day.

Fresh Summer pasta salad

The Best Summer Pasta Salad

I'm calling this the best ever pasta salad. The flavours just sing. I think that's mostly because of the homemade kale and cashew pesto I dressed it with. Oh boy it's good!

Once the pasta shells were dressed with pesto I added sundried tomatoes, cucumber and sweetcorn. So simple, but such a great result.

So what's the secret to really good pasta salad?

It's all about the pasta, pasta, pasta.... *sings while typing*

Pasta Salad Tips

The pasta has to be al dente.

This is really important. It has to be firm. Not hard, but firm.

As soon as it's cooked pour it into a colander and rinse under cold water until it's completely cold.

This leaves you with firm glossy pasta.

It's where most people go wrong. They drain the pasta then dress it and add the toppings while the pasta is still warm or worse still hot and are left with saggy, soft pasta salad.

Really not appealing. Believe me.  I've been there, long ago before I learned the trick and I still remember how bad it was.

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A bowl of pasta salad with sundried tomatoes, cucumber and sweetcorn
The Best Summer Pasta Salad
A fresh pasta salad dressed with homemade kale and cashew pesto and paired with sundried tomatoes, cucumber and sweetcorn. Remember to rinse that pasta until it is cold!
  • 500g shell pasta
  • 6-8 tbsp homemade kale and cashew pesto (or any other pesto)
  • 12 sundried tomatoes
  • ¼ cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 240g tin sweetcorn, drained and rinsed (add as much or as little as you like)
  • a good grinding black pepper
1. Cook the pasta in deep boiling water until firm, drain and rinse until cold. Shake gently to remove as much water as possible them transfer to a large bowl.2. Add the pesto and stir through the pasta.3. Next stir in the other ingredients and season with black pepper.4. Serve and enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4 with leftovers

Do you do the pasta trick when you make pasta salad?

A bowl of spaghetti coated in homemade tomato and roasted red pepper sauce

If you liked this recipe, why not try my tomato and roasted red pepper pasta sauce for spaghetti?


  1. I do that too when I make pasta salad. This one sounds lovely. I'll be trying it soon. It's been a hot spring / summer thus far here. Unseasonably so. It's as if we went from winter right into summer.

    1. Lucky thing, it's been quite cool here and raining a lot. Turned out nice today so we are hoping for a good weekend.

  2. Looks delicious and fresh xo Catherine

  3. I love the look and sound of this pasta salad. I've been looking for inspiration for vege lunches and this definitely fits the bill, bookmarked to print off later and going to go and have a look for the kale and cashew pesto now! Oh and yes, always always pasta into cold water lol x

    1. Ahhh you are doing it right then Sarah. Let me know if you try either.

  4. Kale and cashew dressing sounds great. Perfect for summer and great on a picnic. GG

  5. I learned early on to do this trick. It does make a big difference! I want to eat this pasta RIGHT NOW it looks so amazing (and my belly is grumbling!). Gorgeous!

    1. Well I'd love to say tuck in Elizabeth .................

  6. Well no wonder I never have cold pasta salads - I've been doing it WRONG. Here's me stood corrected! I'll have to try this, it sounds lovely!

    1. Haha, it's an easy mistake to make. Hope I didn't sound sanctimonious.

  7. Looks delicious Jac! Seems like a perfect lunch salad - quick and healthy ;)

  8. Yes please to cashew and kale pesto over any pasta and veg. Yum.

  9. What a wonderful summer salad! I love how light and healthy it is!

  10. Guilty as charged, I've never rinsed pasta under cold water - oops. Your salad looks totally delicious Jac, pasta is such a great comfort food.

  11. I am in agreement with you about the pasta and chilling it down, makes such a difference. Now give me your kale & cashew pesto to dress it with. bet that's gorgeous!


I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x