Picnics are back.

With our current need to stay physically distanced from one another, al fresco dining is a great option. Old fashioned picnics can be a fun way to bring a small group together in the fresh air, and still enjoy each other’s company while distancing and staying healthy.

A DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) meal plan goal is to add more vegetables into your diet. Why not take a basic pasta salad and “veg it up”? Try my Very Veggies Pasta Salad. I like to think of it as a veggie salad with pasta, as opposed to a pasta salad with veggies.

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Very Veggie Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is light on pasta and heavy on veggies. Enjoy it at your next picnic.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Rosanne Rust, MS, RDN


  • 6 oz spring pasta You can use regular, whole wheat, tri-color, or a combination.
  • 1 jar marinated artichokes drained
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers assorted colors
  • 1 small can sliced black olives drained
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup sliced cucumber halved
  • 1 small can chick peas drained
  • 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt-free Italian herb blend
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper


  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and let cool
  • Place artichokes through chick peas into a large serving bowl and toss. Add cooled, cooked pasta and mix to combine.
  • To make the dressing, mix olive oil and remaining ingredients in a small bowl or glass jar. Stir to combine.
  • Pour dressing over pasta salad and toss well. Gently fold in the sunflower seeds and feta cheese. Add more freshly ground black pepper if you like.
  • Chill for at least one hour, or up to overnight. Serve.