Strawberry Cucumber Pasta Salad
on May 04, 2023
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If you’re looking for a way to change up your pasta salad game during the warmer months, then you have to try this strawberry cucumber pasta salad. No offense to tomatoes, peppers and the usual go-to ingredients for this potluck mainstay, but this combination of berries, cucumbers, bow tie pasta, arugula, almonds and blue cheese, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, is what you will be craving.
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Cucumbers are the unsung hero of pasta salads. Easy to cut, juicy and crisp, cucumbers deserve more credit for being a wonderful addition to pasta salads. And they deserve to be a feature ingredient like they do in this recipe.
Strawberries and cucumbers are meant to be together—forever. If you haven’t tried this pair, you need to because it will become one of your refreshing spring/summer favorites.
This salad has an incredible mix of savory and sweet. With fruit, veggies, nuts and cheese, each bite has something to get excited about and will keep you going back for more.
This is what you need:
- Farfalle: Shaped like a bow tie, this flatter pasta works really well with sliced cucumbers and strawberries. There’s something so classic about a bow tie pasta salad. You can think of this recipe as a twist on that with cucumbers and berries instead of tomatoes and bell peppers. You can substitute with rotini, penne or another short pasta shape.
- Strawberries: All you have to do to prep the strawberries is to cut out their stems and slice them. I look for a package that has a variety of sizes from small to medium berries rather than very large ones.
- Cucumbers: English cucumbers are narrower than standard cucumbers. They have fewer seeds, and their skin is more delicate. That’s why I prefer them for salads.
- Arugula: Even though it’s technically a salad green, when I throw in a handful of arugula into a dish, I like to think that it’s working like fresh herbs too because of its distinct peppery taste.
- Scallions: Thinly sliced, these green onions add crisp mild oniony flavor. If you want something stronger, you can substitute with half a small red onion, thinly sliced.
- Almonds: Chopped nuts give the pasta salad additional crunch to go with the crisp cucumbers.
- Blue cheese: This pungent cheese adds another layer to the mix of savory and sweet ingredients. If you’re not a fan, you can use goat or feta cheese instead. Grated Parmesan cheese would also work as a substitute.
- Parsley: I always include chopped fresh herbs in pasta salads.
- Balsamic vinaigrette is the obvious choice for this salad because strawberries and balsamic vinegar pair so well together. The dressing also has garlic, whole grain mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
How to Make this Strawberry Cucumber Pasta Salad
1. Cook the pasta until al dente. Follow the recommended cook time on the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it with cold water. This stops the warm noodles from getting soggy and soft and sticking together.
2. Make the salad dressing. Whisk together the mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
3. Combine the pasta, cucumbers, strawberries, arugula, scallions, blue cheese, almonds and parsley in a large bowl.
4. Drizzle in the vinaigrette and toss everything together.
You can think of pasta salad as a side dish, or treat it like a spring or summer vegetarian main dish. The freshness of the berries and the cucumbers goes with pretty much anything that’s grilled and smoky. Those flavors will all play well together.
Storage, Leftovers & Make-Ahead Tips
The pasta salad is best the day that it’s made, but you can prep certain things in advance. You can cut the strawberries and cucumbers a day ahead. Just store them separately in airtight containers in the fridge.
The balsamic vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep it in a jar in the refrigerator. Then let it sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes to give the oil a chance to warm up and become liquid again if it has hardened.
I wait to make the pasta until the day of because I don’t want to risk the noodles softening or sticking together when they are sitting in the fridge.
If you do have pasta salad leftovers, you can keep them in the fridge up to 3 days. Please be aware that the texture will lose some of crispness the longer it is stored. Stir in more arugula before you eat leftovers.
Do not overcook the pasta. It’s very important that it is al dente, so the pasta salad has the best consistency possible.
Don’t be tempted to cook the pasta too early. For the freshest pasta salad, you should wait to cook the pasta until you are ready to assemble and serve the salad, or you will end up with soggy noodles.
Taste the pasta salad and adjust the seasonings. Cold food tends to need more salt. That’s very true with cold pasta. Take a couple bites and add more salt and pepper as needed to suit your tastes.
More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes
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Strawberry Cucumber Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces farfalle pasta
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 English cucumber, sliced
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water in a colander.
- For the vinaigrette, whisk the mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta, cucumbers, strawberries, arugula, scallions, blue cheese, almonds and parsley.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette into the pasta salad, tossing to combine.
- Taste the pasta salad and add more salt and/or pepper as desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe originally published May 27, 2021. Updated: May 4, 2023.