What's better than cool pasta tossed with fresh, crisp vegetables and a bright green pesto on a hot summer day? Not much. 

I made this dish last weekend for a feast with friends after a long day of fishing. Unfortunately, we didn't catch a single fish (or even got a bite!), but we did have a great time drinking cheap beer and getting sunburned. Along with the pasta, our friends also made the most delicious pulled pork that was cooked all day on the smoker. 

When I started thinking about this dish, I knew I wanted to make a cold pasta salad with pesto, but I wasn't sure what veggies were the right fit. Tomatoes seemed logical. At the grocery store I came across this container of cherry tomatoes in all shapes, colors and sizes and they seemed perfect. 

I then started thinking about cucumbers. Cucumbers are a great summer vegetable because they are so fresh and light. However, I tend to think of cucumbers pairing better with Greek-inspired ingredients, and pesto is more of an Italian sauce. 

I opted for zucchini. I like zucchini because it has a mild natural flavor and can be seasoned to pair with nearly anything. I ended up sauteing this zucchini in a little olive oil with dried Italian seasoning and s + p. 

I also tossed in some frozen peas to the pan to let them thaw. 

I tossed all the veggies together with warm bow-tie pasta and and a jar of store-bought pesto. I added a splash of balsamic vinegar and put it in the fridge to cool. 


  • box of pasta - I like fun shapes like bow-tie. Tortellini would be great too!
  • cherry tomatoes - halved
  • zucchini - cut bite-size
  • frozen peas
  • jarred or homemade pesto
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar 
  • Italian seasoning
  • s + p

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, saute the zucchini in a pan of heated olive oil just until tender. Season with Italian seasoning and s + p. Add frozen peas to the pan until thawed. When pasta is done, combine with zucchini and pea mixture, tomatoes, pesto and balsamic. Add more olive oil to the mixture if it seems a little try. 

This is such a simple dish, especially when using jarred pesto, but it definitely doesn't lack flavor. Dishes like this are perfect for hot summer days when you want to spend minimum time in the kitchen and maximum time with friends drinking cold beer and wading in the water.  

AuthorMolly Streuli