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Pasta Salad with Artichokes and Summer Veggies will wow at your next picnic! Ditch the box mixes and make a homemade salad full of marinated artichokes, red peppers, zucchini squash, spinach, and pasta noodles topped with a homemade artichoke pesto vinaigrette! This recipe lasts for days in the fridge, can be made ahead and is simple enough to make gluten free, nut free, seed free, and even vegan! Homemade artichoke pesto dressing is a favorite on other summer salads, so we've made the recipe to cover more than just the pasta salad!
Did you know that two third's of the world's artichokes are farmed in Monterey County in California? Twenty years ago, the Major and I were married right in Monterey! I also tried an artichoke for the very first time 2 days before that! We'd just met his parents for dinner in downtown Carmel, at a quaint Italian restaurant. It was the first time I had ever met his parents (yes, you read that right!). His mom went on and on about the pizza she was eating and she insisted that I try a slice.
Now I may not be the smartest cookie about some things, but I knew I better take the piece she offered than set a bad first impression. I was so nervous. At the time I wasn't a very adventurous eater and an artichoke seemed pretty exotic. Now I'm so glad she made me try it, because I'm a huge fan of these funky thistle-like flowers!
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What are artichokes and artichoke hearts?
Artichokes are vegetables and they are full of vitamins C and K, folate and fiber. Although, unlike most veggies- the artichoke that is eaten is a flower! They can be eaten in many different ways, from fried to boiled to grilled. Marinated artichokes are my favorites. It seems to mellow the texture and give that faint tinge of vinegar that I adore.
Artichoke hearts are located towards the bottom, on top of the stem. It's considered the "meaty" part of the flower. You can see that there are many different parts of the flower, but some people prefer the artichoke hearts to other parts.
Because I know that artichokes are complicated veggies, I decided to include this helpful YouTube video to help explain all the parts!
Homemade Pasta Salad With Marinated Artichokes and Summer Vegetables
The dressing is what makes the salad pop in flavor. It is essentially an artichoke pesto sauce! The artichoke pesto is also fantastic on other salads, especially kale salad, so the recipe is enough to make 2 servings of the vinaigrette! I've utilized a jar of marinated artichoke hearts because they are easy to find year round!
The dressing whips up quickly in either a small food processor, a handheld immersion blender, or a blender. I make mine in the Instant Pot Ace Blender. I've had it for about 6 months and adore it because it is so easy to clean!
The salad can be made in advance, which is great! The most time-consuming part is prepping the veggies, and that doesn't take as long as you would think.
This must-have summer pasta salad recipe is so versatile! I love that I can make it vegan, gluten free, nut free and even seed free! The dressing is fantastic on other salads, especially kale salad, so the recipe is enough to make 2 servings of the vinaigrette.
Common Questions About This Artichoke Pesto Pasta Salad:
How do I make Pasta Salad gluten free?
I simply substituted the noodles for my favorite gluten free bow tie pasta! The veggies are naturally gluten free!
How do I make vegan pasta salad?
It's so easy to convert this to a vegan pasta salad- simply omit the cheese or substitute vegan cheese! The vegetables like artichokes, red peppers, spinach, and seeds are vegan! Be sure to double-check that your noodles are egg free to ensure it is a vegan dish!
How do I make the artichoke pesto dressing seed free?
So I'm allergic to most seeds. It's an annoying food allergy to have. The good news? Swapping out the pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds makes very little difference in this artichoke pasta salad. Keeping them gives it more of a true "artichoke pesto" feeling but they are not 100% necessary. I like to add them when just making it for a crowd for the nutritional value.
What Ingredients Do I Need To Make Pasta Salad with Artichokes and Summer Veggies
- pasta of course! We like to use bow tie pasta, but rigatoni or penne work well too!
- artichokes! We use marinated artichoke pieces or hearts- your preference!
- zucchini - you can also use yellow squash! cooking helps mellow out this veggie and loses the toughness.
- cherry tomatoes - if you have fresh garden tomatoes, chopping them would be perfectly fine!
- roasted red peppers - like the artichokes, marinated veggies add a pop of flavor to the salad!
- red onion - the mild flavored onion adds a pop of color and is great in salads!
- cheese! Grated parmesan, romano, shredded Italian all go well. Feta adds a fun twist too!
What ingredients do I need for the Artichoke Pesto Dressing?
- cilantro - I know, it's not Italian. It adds bulk and its actual taste is drowned out by the basil, but it adds a slight flavor profile that you can't get with just basil alone
- fresh basil - a true pesto ingredient! Plentiful in the summer months!
- jarred artichoke hearts - also some juice from the jar! It's the perfect garlic vinegar flavored punch the dressing needs!
- garlic - who can live without garlic?
- lemon juice - this helps make the fresh dressing last longer in the fridge and adds to the flavor with its acidity.
- pumpkin or hemp seeds - again, you can omit this if needed, but they provide extra protein and fatty acids.
- Olive oil - this helps blend everything and also adds oleic acid which helps fight inflammation.
How Long Will the Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables and Artichokes Last?
I prefer to eat this within 2 days of making, 3 stretching it. It will get soggy the more time it sits. I like to chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving to allow all the flavors to meld together.
WAIT! The Artichoke Pesto Dressing makes enough for more than one salad! That's right! If you're going to take the time to make the homemade dressing, it makes sense to make enough to have extra! The leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for up to a week!
How else can I use the Artichoke Pesto Dressing?
The homemade pesto is prefect on other summer salads or simply on a bed of spinach. For a quick summer dinner, boil spaghetti noodles, drain, coat with the artichoke pesto and heat through. If not vegan, top with some grilled chicken and / or cherry tomatoes.
What Equipment Do I Need To Make Pasta Salad with Artichokes and Summer Veggies?
- a large mixing bowl The bigger the better. You don't want everything spilling over the sides when you are trying to mix it all up! Since the dressing is acidic, you will not want to use stainless steel! Stick to ceramic, glass or plastic bowls.
- a good chopping board! You'll be dicing up the onion, the zucchini, the cherry tomatoes. A good chopping board and knife is worth its weight in gold!
- a blender or a small food processor. You really can't make pesto without one of these, and they are versatile enough to have one in your kitchen
Still in need of fun summertime recipes?
You might enjoy these at your next picnic!
Grilled Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches With Balsamic Bell Pepper Coleslaw The coleslaw as a side dish will rock your world!
Don't forget to pin to your favorite side dish recipe board on Pinterest!
RECIPE FOR PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKES AND SUMMER VEGETABLES:
Pasta Salad with Artichokes and summer vegetables
- 2 ½ cups dry bowtie pasta
- 1 large zucchini halved and sliced
- 1 cup spinach chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ cup jarred sliced roasted red pepper
- ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
- ½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese optional*
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing:
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup jarred artichoke hearts + 1 tablespoon juice from the jar
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon pumpkin or hemp seeds
- ½ cup olive oil
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the zucchini slices for the last 3 minutes of cooking.
- While pasta is cooking, prepare salad veggies if you have not already done so. Place chopped or sliced veggies, except for zucchini, to a large salad bowl.
- When pasta and zucchini are done cooking, drain and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then add them to the salad bowl with the veggies.
- While pasta is cooling, prepare the dressing: Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor or blender. Pulse until well chopped.
- With processor running, pour in olive oil until just incorporated and dressing is smooth but runny.
- Pour half of dressing over the pasta and veggies in the salad bowl. Toss well to coat.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a little more dressing if desired**.
- Toss gently once more and serve. Garnish salads with grated cheese, if desired.
**leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for up to a week. It is wonderful on all kinds of salads, especially kale salad (massage into kale leaves to tenderize them).