School is in session but the weather still says “summer”. Soon we’ll have a nice break from the heat with a few days of temperatures in the 70s. Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy a garden pasta salad with a back to school outdoor picnic. I love eating outdoors. I love the sounds of the birds, the sunshine, and the cool breeze. A pasta salad is so versatile, because you can add just about anything to it, and also use up leftovers. It can be a meatless meal, or you can add cheese, chunks of cooked chicken breast or mini meatballs.

This easy dish can be a meal, or a side dish, and travels well for pot-lucks and picnics. You can also make it ahead, and then use it through the week on busy weeknights. Enjoy!


Very Veggie Pasta Salad

1 pound of whole wheat penne or elbow macaroni

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large cucumber, seeded, diced

3-4 plum tomatoes, seeded, diced

1 bell pepper or 2 banana peppers, seeded, diced

1/2 cup chopped spinach or kale

1/4 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts (optional)

3 TB chopped fresh herb (use your favorite – basil, oregano, thyme)

2 TB lemon juice or favorite vinegar (I love my Sicilian lemon vinegar)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup feta cheese, or a vegan cheese (optional)


  1. Cook pasta, according to al dente directions (usually about 8 minutes). Drain well.
  2. Add chopped vegetables, nuts and herbs to pasta, and toss until mixed. You can use any veggie you like. I prefer dicing them. Try adding cubed and roasted eggplant or chopped broccoli or cauliflower.
  3. Mix lemon juice and olive oil in small bowl. Pour over pasta and toss gently until mixed.
  4. Add crumbled feta cheese and toss. (You can also add cooked chicken or chopped cooked shrimp)
  5. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or up to a day, until ready to eat.