Pasta salad. You either love it or you hate it. If you hate it it’s probably because it makes you think of sad office parties, boring family picnics or that afterthought of a side dish at a summer wedding. Those kinds of pasta salads do exist. However, homemade, bright, fresh and zesty pasta salads also exist, like this lemon arugula pasta salad, and those you should give another chance.
I fall more on the pasta salad hater side than the lover side for the most part, but on a recent trip home to my parent’s house, with 70+ degree weather outside, a GOOD pasta salad sounded like a perfect side to our barbecued hamburgers. And since I’m now sharing this recipe, clearly it was a hit.
Whoever was eating a salad one day and decided that it would be better with pasta in it should get some kind of award. I know pasta has a bad reputation among dieters with all the carbs and what not, but if you’re craving some noodle-age then just be sure to buy the whole wheat, preferably organic kind and don’t sweat it! Especially with this recipe because it’s surrounded by healthy vegetables and a light dressing. This is a feel good salad…so do that…feel good.
There are a lot of different flavors and textures in this little lemon arugula pasta salad ranging from tangy and salty to crunchy and smooth. Arugula has a very distinct flavor to it that most would consider to be “peppery.” This is where the lemon comes in. The lemon zest and juice that’s in the vinaigrette helps to cut the peppery flavor of the arugula, keeping it from overpowering the salad. Then you throw in the creamy, salty feta, sweet and juicy tomatoes and fresh basil…yum.
An important note about basil:
Don’t store it in your fridge!! Basil turns black/brown within a day if you store it in the fridge. The best thing to do is to trim the stems and store it in a jar of water on your counter like you would a bouquet of flowers. The basil should last 4-5 days if not more stored this way.
You’re welcome. I just saved you the heartache of wilty, ugly basil.
What to Bring to the Store
To make sure you reduce your packaging waste with this recipe, bring the following reusables with you to the store:
- 2-3 reusable produce bags for your arugula, basil and/or tomatoes (look for arugula and basil in the bulk produce section and avoid pre-packaged!)
- 1 reusable bulk bag (if you can find pasta in bulk)
Don’t forget your reusable grocery bags!
Waste Meter – 4
This lemon arugula pasta salad recipe gets a 4 out of 5 on the waste meter because you might only need to toss or recycle a few items. Here’s the breakdown:
Recycle: Feta container and/or pasta container (if in a cardboard box)
Compost: Veggie scraps
Trash: Pasta packaging (if you can’t find it in bulk or boxed)
- 4 cups whole wheat fusili pasta
- 3 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1 cup diced cherry, grape or mini heirloom tomatoes
- 4 ounces crumbled feta
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
- Meanwhile, dice the tomatoes and chop the basil. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
- Add the cold pasta to a large bowl. Add the arugula, basil, tomatoes and feta. Pour on the vinaigrette and toss well. Serve immediately or place in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.