Get Baked: Zucchini Summer Pasta Salad

I’ve always stayed away from pasta salads because they tend to have mayonnaise-based dressings and not enough vegetables. So this pasta salad is basically perfect because it combines no mayonnaise with a ton of zucchini and the super power that is tasting better after some time in the fridge – which is absolutely essential when a lack of air conditioning makes hot food a revolting prospect.

If you’re making it in advance, cook the pasta al dente, as it will get a little softer when it sits, and only add the almonds when you serve. Cutting the zucchini (halved lengthwise and then sliced paper thin) is a pain without a mandolin, but the interesting texture that results is worth it. Make sure your knife is sharp and your fingers are out of the way.


Zucchini Summer Pasta Salad


3 to 4 medium-sized zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
1 tsp. coarse salt
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 pound whole-wheat rotini, bow tie or other chunky pasta
1 lemon, juiced
5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
black pepper
1/8 red onion, very thinly sliced
several handfuls of arugula or baby spinach
1/2 cup feta, crumbled (optional)


1. After slicing the zucchini, toss it with 1 tsp. salt (Kosher or sea) in a large strainer in the sink and let it drain for about 20 minutes. Test a piece and if it seems really salty, rinse it and let it drain a little longer.

2. While you wait, toast the almonds. Put them in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring until they start to turn golden and smell toasty. Remove then from the heat and set aside.

3. Cook the pasta until al dente. While you wait, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together with some freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in the sliced red onion to marinate for a few minutes.

4. When the pasta’s done, drain it and quickly stir in the arugula or spinach, tossing quickly so it wilts. Add the zucchini, tossing so it doesn’t clump, and the olive oil, lemon juice and onion. Add almonds, feta and salt and fresh pepper to taste just before serving.zucchini-summer-pasta-4

Based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen has the best recipes after Yotam Ottolenghi! mmmmmmmm

  2. “I’ve always stayed away from pasta salads because they tend to have mayonnaise-based dressings and not enough vegetables.”

    this is what makes pasta salads the best kind of salads. see also: potato salad. mmmm creamy carbohydratey goodness

    • Hmmm. I don’t know. I tend to love those oily vinegary pasta salads. But to each their own. I’m excited for this recipe. YUMMY.

  3. My elderly relatives recently served pasta “salad” at a family dinner, and I’m pretty sure the only ingredients besides pasta were mayonnaise and celery. My queer vegan heart died a little.

  4. omg this sounds good. Thank you – I am in SUCH a cooking/food rut that I almost live off of protein shakes.

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