Let’s dive right into one of the best items to put on pasta… pesto, homemade or store bought it’s full of flavor and a quick item to add to make this fantastic pasta salad. You’ll enjoy it all summer long, and you can even heat it up if you want.
Grab a plate of this Pesto Pasta with Zucchini and a glass of white wine, and watch the sunset – it’s such a delicious way to spend an evening. It’s also great to bring to the beach on a sunny day.
Out of all the vegetables, zucchini is the most misunderstood, and yet it’s great in a variety of dishes, such as these mouth-watering Glazed Pork and Zucchini Meatballs. And they fit in seamlessly into soups of all kinds like my Lemon-Zucchini Summer Soup.
Adding to this is the red onion, bringing its own punch of nutrition to the table.
If you’re not fond of onions, there is a trick you can do to reduce the “bitey” flavor. After you’ve chopped up your onion simply soak them in cold water for 10 minutes, and you’ll enjoy the flavor of this delightful onion but not the punch. You can also store the onion this way in the fridge. If you love onions be sure to check out my pickled onions, they’re delicious on so many recipes especially my Banh Mi Meatballs.
Another ingredient giving this dish a fresh flavor is the homemade mayo I use. I add a tablespoon of it and some lemon juice to the dish, to add some zing. You could easily use sour cream, plain yogurt, or prepared mayo in place of my homemade version. But trust me give the homemade mayo a try, it’s so delicious.
Let’s get to it!
Prepare pasta according to package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is cold. You can soak it with cold water for 5 minutes as well, just be sure it is well drained, or the sauce will not coat the pasta.
Toss the pasta with the pesto and aioli (or substitute item mentioned previously)
Give it a taste and add salt and pepper if desired.
Stir in the zucchini and red onion, chopped to your desired size.
Finally, top the dish with cheese and serve.
This dish is great and indulgent with crusty bread or served on its own.
Another great thing about this recipe is it’s delicious hot or cold, so don’t be afraid to heat up the leftovers if you want to mix it up and eat it warmed up. But, cold pasta salad is always a great idea! Have you heard they do think that cold cooked pasta just like cold cooked potatoes (like potato salad) is known to be a resistant starch which means it could aid in weight loss, and not spick your glycemic index.
Pasta is so versatile and offers so many ways to enjoy it. I often get questions about how to prepare it and what can be added to it. Here are a few questions to feed inquiring minds:
I plan on making your homemade mayo recipe, how long will it last stored in my fridge?
I don’t use Zucchini often, how do I make sure I’m getting a good one?
Select zucchini that is firm and feels slightly more flexible than a cucumber. Avoid soft zucchinis as this is a sign they could be inedible soon. Zucchini that is 6 inches or smaller are younger zucchinis and are often more tender and flavorful.
More great zucchini recipes:
- Zucchini Cakes– this is one of my favorite zucchini recipes
- Zucchini Italiano– oh the flavors of childhood, my mom made this dish all summer long.
- Creamy Zucchini Soup– this is so wonderful and a true winner all year.
- Zucchini Pizza – get in those veggies
- Zucchini Noodles – so filling without being heavy
- Italian Zucchini Baked Ziti – a favorite all year long
If you love pasta salad be sure to check these out also
- Feta Basil Balsamic Pasta Salad – always a favorite
- Creamy Lemon Pasta Salad – so tasty you’ll want this on a regular basis
- Luau Pasta Salad with the bright flavors of pineapple and coconut it’s sure to become a summer fav
more pesto recipe to enjoy
- Pesto Pasta Salad – full of flavor with sundried tomatoes and spinach
- Kick it up with this Jalapeno Pesto – full of summer fresh flavors
- Pesto Tomato Mozzarella Pasta -eat it hot or cold
- The BLT gets an update with this flavorful BLT Pasta Salad
- Pressed Turkey Pesto Sandwich – always a great item to have in the fridge, RVing, Beach days, weekday lunches, and more.
- 8 oz penne pasta
- 3 tablespoons pesto
- 1 tablespoon mayo, aioli, sour cream or yogurt (or lemon juice)
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1/4 cup diced, red onion
- 1 oz Romano or Parmesan Cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare pasta according to package directions, then drain in rinse with cold water until pasta is cold. You can soak it with cold water for 5 minutes as well.
- Drain all water off pasta, so the sauce sticks well to the pasta.
- Toss the pasta with pesto and aioli (or other creamy item mentioned above)
- Give it a taste and add salt and pepper if desired.
- Stir in the zucchini and red onion.
- Top the dish with cheese and serve.