I will be the first to admit that summer is definitely not my favorite time of the year. Living in the southeast, you can often find me hibernating in the house in an attempt to escape the crazy heat and humidity. But the one bright light of the season? I adore all the wonderful fruit and veggies that I can find at the store (and farmer’s market!). Tomatoes, fresh corn, berries? It just doesn’t get much better.
I tend to make quite a number of pasta salads during the summer, whether just to enjoy at home or to bring to a potluck or barbecue. As someone who has never been a big fan of mayo-based salads, I have fun experimenting with different flavors and combinations. Today’s pasta salad is packed with some of my favorite summer produce - plenty of fresh corn, bell peppers and of course a good amount of basil! It’s light, simple and full of color.
What I really love about this salad is that it can serve double duty. It works great as a side dish, but also makes an excellent light meal, especially if you add either some chickpeas or cannellini beans for a bit of protein! It is delicious both warm and cold, making it a favorite of mine for lunch.
While the recipe does call for pine nuts (which do get a little pricey!), you can absolutely use any other nut or seed of choice. Additionally, while I like to stick with the white balsamic vinegar here, you could also use regular balsamic vinegar in its place (keeping in mind that it will give the pasta a light brown tinge!).
For the pasta:
- 10 ounces fusilli pasta or shape of choice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper chopped
- 1 medium orange bell pepper chopped
- 2 medium ears corn kernels removed
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup pine nuts
For the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Drain, rinse well with cold water and add to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add in the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until it starts to soften. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add in both peppers and the corn. Continue to cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the peppers are crisp tender. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl with the pasta, along with the basil, parsley and pine nuts. Toss to combine.
For the dressing:
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour into the bowl with the pasta and toss to combine. Season with additional salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for several hours to allow the flavors to meld.