An easy-peasy summer salad. Fusilli, bell peppers, celery, onions, and olives are tossed with a dressing made from tangy Greek yogurt. Who says pasta salads are so 1990s?
In early May when the weather begins to show signs of summer in the Northwest, everyone begins to talk about outside dining and picnics. These casual meals often include a wide array of salads, and pasta salads are a perennial favorite. I think one of the downfalls of pasta salad is when it is overly heavy with dressing (often made with lots of mayonnaise). With yogurt in this dressing, the salad is lighter and the flavors come through better. I love Greek-style yogurt, which is thicker and tangier than the more common yogurts we see in grocery stores.–Renée Behnke | Cynthia Nims
Confetti Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing
For the pasta
- 8 ounces fusilli or rotini pasta
- 1 red bell pepper roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 3 stalks celery diced
- 6 green onions minced
- 3/4 cup diced sweet onion
- 3/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup diced sweet pickles
For the tangy yogurt dressing
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (not nonfat), preferably Greek
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the pasta
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain the pasta well, place in a large bowl, and let cool slightly. Add the roasted peppers, celery, green onions, sweet onion, olives, and pickles and stir to mix.
Make the dressing
- Whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, and mustard in a medium bowl until well blended. Whisk in the olive oil, basil, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and pickle juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta mixture and stir to thoroughly incorporate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Taste the salad again for seasoning before serving, adding more salt or pepper if needed.
Menu IdeasPasta salads go best with simple meat or fish preparations, or even just a good grilled burger or any kind of sandwich. This salad holds up well to travel, great for potlucks and family gatherings.
Do-Ahead TipsThis salad can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, and will have the best flavor if made at least 1 day in advance. Let the salad sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I’m always on the lookout for a new pasta salad and this one didn’t disappoint. This is one of those recipes where I had most of the ingredients on hand. It’s also one of those recipes that takes a little work to prepare but the results are well worth it. After starting the recipe I noticed I was out of sweet onions so I left those out. I let it sit for 3 hours before I tried it the first time. The flavor was very nice. The right amount of onion and I loved the little salty burst from the Kalamata olives. I’m not a sweet-pickle fan, but it worked in this recipe. The next day this was even better. This will be my new go-to pasta salad. Next time, I might try adding a little diced jalapeño pepper for a kick.
Originally published July 14, 2009