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Healthy summer pasta salads

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Lighten up with pasta

Pasta salads are a summer staple at barbecues and cookouts, but the usual mayo-laden sides aren't a good choice for those of us wanting to maintain that beach body we've worked so hard to achieve. Lighter pasta salads featuring fresh vegetables and even fruit are a much better choice. Here are some summer pasta salad tips and recipes for your next BBQ or cookout.

Summer pasta salad recipes

Greek Feta Pasta Salad

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups penne pasta, cooked al dente
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil.

2. In a large bowl, combine pasta, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumber and olives.

3. Drizzle dressing over pasta mixture and sprinkle with crumbled feta. Chill until ready to serve.

Italian Antipasto Salad

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 cup olives, chopped
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
1/2 pound hard salami, diced
1/2 pound pepperoni, diced
1/2 pound hard provolone cheese, diced
2 green peppers, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper.

2. In a large bowl, combine macaroni, salami, pepperoni, Provolone, peppers, tomatoes and onions.

3. Drizzle dressing over pasta and toss. Chill until ready to serve.

Hawaiian Pasta Salad

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:
4 ounces snow peas
2 heads broccoli, chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 celery stalks, minced
1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, diced
1 Vidalia onion, diced
1 pound rotini pasta, cooked al dente

Directions:
1. Combine snow peas and broccoli in a steamer basket and place in a pot with a few inches of boiling water. Steam vegetables until they are crisp-tender. Drain and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk mustard with red onion, oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large bowl, combine pasta with celery, pineapple and Vidalia onion.

4. Drizzle dressing over pasta and gently toss. Chill until ready to serve.

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