Refreshing, vibrant, and tangy, this sweet Summer Pasta Salad with Fruit is a fun take on a classically savory dish. Tossed with a dijon citrus dressing, it’s ready in less than 15 minutes and loaded with nutrients. Serve it cold as a satisfying side with all your favorite meals!
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Summer Pasta Salad
Nothing says summer quite like a cold pasta salad recipe, and this pasta fruit salad is one of our faves! Here’s why we love it and know you will, too:
- Preparing the pasta is the only cooking you need to do.
- It’s vibrant, refreshing, and full of nutrients.
- You can make it in bulk to serve as a side at summer BBQs, pool parties, and more.
- It’s sweet, tangy, and easy to customize with all your favorite ingredients.
What You’ll Need
Featuring fresh fruit, veggies, and a Dijon citrus dressing, this summer pasta salad is truly unique! Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Pasta Fruit Salad:
- Pasta – We use Vesuvio pasta, but any shape you like best or have on hand will do.
- Strawberries – Use fresh strawberries, and slice them thin.
- Spinach – Baby spinach adds a pop of color and extra nutrients.
- Dried Cranberries – Used for extra sweetness and a satisfyingly chewy texture.
- Feta – This adds an irresistible creaminess and a slightly salty tangy taste. For the best results, we recommend using full-fat crumbles.
- Almonds – A great source of healthy fats, almonds provide an irresistible crunch.
For the Dressing:
- Citrus – Fresh orange juice, orange zest, and lemon juice form the base of the dressing, creating a sweet, tangy taste.
- Honey – Used to enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit.
- Dijon Mustard – It might sound strange, but this creates a creamy texture and acts as a binder, holding all the ingredients together.
- Salt – Just a pinch enhances the rest of the ingredients.
- Poppy Seeds – Slightly nutty in taste, these add an extra bit of crunch.
- Olive Oil – Used to combine all the ingredients, adding healthy fats and a rich flavor while making the dressing pourable.
How to Make a Summer Pasta Fruit Salad
This pasta fruit salad is the easiest recipe you’ll ever make!
- Prepare the Pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- Make the Dressing. In a measuring cup, add the ingredients for the dressing. Whisk until they are well combined and smooth.
- Toss the Pasta Salad. Add all of the ingredients for the summer pasta salad to a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top, and gently toss to combine, making sure all of the ingredients are coated.
Tips and Tricks
This summer pasta salad is pretty failproof, but we’ve got a few extra tips to make sure it’s great!
- Cook Past Al Dente. Okay, you don’t want your pasta to be mushy. However, cooking it just slightly past al dente will help the pasta stay soft even after it cools. After all, nobody likes crunchy pasta salad!
- Cool Completely. Let your pasta cool completely before combining it with the rest of your ingredients. Put it in the fridge if you want! Otherwise, it’s likely to cause the rest of the ingredients to become a bit soggy.
- Adjust the Dressing. We like our pasta salad with fruit a little saucy, but feel free to use as little or as much dressing as you’d like!
Feel free to mix and match your favorite ingredients to make this summer pasta fruit salad meet your needs. For instance, you can:
- Make It Vegan. Omit the cheese. Or, use your favorite dairy-free alternative, and use maple syrup instead of honey!
- Add Protein. Transform this side dish into a complete meal with the addition of lean protein like chicken or shrimp.
- Use Veggies. We include spinach in this pasta salad, but feel free to use all the veggies you want! For example, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers would all taste great.
- Make It Gluten-Free. Swap out the pasta with your favorite gluten-free alternative.
Make Ahead and Storage Options
If you want to prepare your summer pasta salad ahead of time, it can be tossed together, and placed in an airtight container. Then, store it in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
Looking for more variations on pasta salad? Check out the recipes below!
Summer Pasta Salad Recipe
For the Dressing:
- ½ cup orange juice freshly squeezed
- Zest of ½ an orange
- ¼ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the Pasta Salad:
- 16 ounces Vesuvio pasta or any shape you prefer, uncooked
- 12 ounces strawberries sliced
- 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
- 8 ounces fresh spinach
- 4 ounces feta cheese crumbles
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Using salted water, prepare the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain, and set aside to cool.
- In a measuring cup, add the orange juice, orange zest, lemon juice, honey, Dijon, salt, poppy seeds, and olive oil. Whisk to combine, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add all of the salad ingredients. Pour the prepared dressing on top using as little or as much as desired, and toss to combine.
- Store in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.