Bringing this recipe out from the archives to give it a little update. It’s an oldie but a goodie but really needed a little facelift. Updating old posts is quite a fun trip down memory lane as well!
The other night my husband and I were grilling out. We have the same sides often when we grill and he asked if I would switch things up. His suggestion? Pasta Salad. Now, pasta salad is typically one of the things I don’t waste my time on at BBQs. I find them to be the same thing over and over: pasta, Italian dressing, some veggies and cheese. It gets old. I was not in the mood for that at all! I knew it would be a challenge since my husband can be a bit picky when it comes to food, but I was up for it!
The final product, a Tomato Basil Pasta Salad was a hit. There was none left on Anthony’s plate and he even commented that it smelled good as I was putting it all together in the kitchen. Fresh basil paired with spinach, tomatoes and avocados make this your not so average pasta salad. We had it as a side dish, but throughout the week I tossed it with some mixed greens, added more avocado and also added some leftover grilled chicken for lunch one day. Yum!
You can alter this to fit your dietary needs. Gluten free pasta can be used and vegan cheese or no cheese at all is fine if you are skipping the dairy. The avocado gives it a rich creaminess that you won’t even miss the cheese!
Next time you are invited to a BBQ, maybe you will even offer to bring pasta salad. This dish will certainly not be skipped over!
- 8 oz. Rotini pasta whole grain or gluten free
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1 avocado
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup thinly chopped red onion
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
- cracked pepper
- sea salt
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 T olive oil
- 1/3 c grated parmesan romano and/or asiago cheese (optional)
Boil pasta according to package instructions.
Prep and cut all of the vegetables.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
Once pasta is cooked drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add spinach immediately and stir. This will allow the spinach to wilt a bit from the heat of the pasta.
Add tomatoes, basil and onion.
Pour the dressing in and stir to coat evenly. If it seems a bit dry add more balsamic or olive oil.
Finally, stir in avocado and cheese (if using).
Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to one hour before serving.
Have this as a side dish or toss some chicken or other protein in for a full meal!
I would say the avocado is optional on this recipe--sometimes I add it and sometimes I don't and both ways are still amazing!