In the summer heat, the last thing you want to do is eat something hot and steamy. Noodles of all kinds are a cooling and refreshing base for everything from Thai-style peanut sauce to your childhood tuna and mayonnaise salad. When you’re looking for a cool dish to offset the sun’s heat, try one of our summer pasta salads filled with vegetables and herbs.
Related: 23 light and easy comfort food recipes for warm weather
Your favorite summer sandwich is great in the form of pasta salad. If you use the best fresh tomatoes from the garden, you don’t really need any sauce, as they are rich enough with juice. But a little simple vinaigrette or even some ranch dressing won’t hurt if it’s too dry. Arugula adds a slightly bitter bite, but you can toss it with chopped romaine instead.
Recipe: good housekeeping
Related: 16 easy summer pasta recipes
Vietnamese spring rolls are like a burrito pasta salad wrapped in fine rice paper. Pork and shrimp are the typical proteins, but you can leave them out for a vegetarian dish. Don’t skimp on the fresh herbs inside the wrap as they add so much fresh flavor. Feel free to add other vegetables like cucumbers or carrots – all amazing tasting dipped in peanut sauce.
Recipe: hungry hui
Related: The perfect light dessert for lazy summer days
This Greek-inspired salad uses orzo, a rice-shaped pasta. It’s so simple, yet so delicious with a lemony olive oil dressing and chunks of rich, savory feta cheese. Cucumbers, red onions, and green onions add crunch, while two whole cups of dill and chopped parsley add fresh herbs. If you have some cherry tomatoes, throw them in, too.
Recipe: food web
A much-needed update to an old-fashioned ramen noodle salad, this recipe is for people who prefer their uncooked ramen. Edamame, avocado, and mango are all assembled from a standard coleslaw blend, while honey vinegar coats them with sesame oil.
Recipe: Give me some oven
Noodle and rice dishes don’t have to be hot, especially when it comes to seafood. Peeled salmon, cucumbers, fennel, cherry tomatoes, and other vegetables get a light dressing of lemon, rice vinegar, and sesame. If you can’t find mung bean strands—also called cellophane noodles because they’re transparent when cooked—you can use rice noodles.
Recipe: I’m a food blog
Orange juice adds a light sweetness and fruity quality to the peanut sauce that coats the pasta in this recipe. Saute sweet peppers, cabbage and carrots with noodles, but you can add whatever you have on hand, such as snow peas or cucumbers. You can use any type of pasta you want, including linguine if all is available.
Recipe: Feast at home
Fresh tortellini from the refrigerated section of the grocery store makes a typical pasta salad even more hearty. The cheesy pasta is topped with asparagus hearts and artichokes, and there’s plenty of grated pesto to dress it up. Fresh watercress adds a sharp bitterness and a lot of vitamins.
Recipe: get rid of health
Sesame noodles are a takeout classic, but you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. The sauce starts with tahini, a sesame seed paste, but you can use peanut butter in a pinch. Soy, ginger, fish sauce, and rice vinegar make up the rest of the light and creamy sauce. Shredded cabbage and chicken are toppings, but you can use whatever you have on hand.
Recipe: Serious eats
Grilled vegetables are a summer staple—and they don’t warm the house. Once the squash, red onions, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes have been grilled, chop them up and toss them with penne pasta. Balsamic vinaigrette emulsifies with a little mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, making it slightly creamy and able to coat salads well.
Recipe: budget bytes
It’s always a good idea to have a big batch of tuna pasta salad in the fridge ready for summer snacks or lunches. It’s inexpensive and full of protein, plus plenty of crunchy celery. The sauce consists of half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt for a lighter version of the classic, but you can use whatever you prefer.
Recipe: Better than zero taste
This Asian-inspired salad is great and eats like a full meal. Toss the sauce made of fish sauce, chili paste, rice vinegar and the salad in one bowl and let it rest for a while until the rice noodles absorb all the flavor. Grilled chicken and sliced chili peppers complement the dish.
Recipe: All recipes
Vietnamese noodle salad, also called bun, is a refreshing combination of vermicelli rice, delicious grilled meats, crisp vegetables, and tangy herbs. It’s topped with nuoc cham, a garlic-lemon sauce that perfectly balances salty, sweet and sour foods. This version includes irresistible fried onions and marinated pork chops.
Recipe: life pans
Classic broccoli salad packs carbohydrates in this pasta dish that will showcase fresh summer produce. The sweet and sour creamy sauce is made with mayonnaise, sugar and red wine vinegar. Chopped pecans give the dish some nutty crunch, while grapes give pops of sweetness. Some people think crumbled bacon is the best part, but you can leave it in a vegetarian dish.
Recipe: Southern Living
Why not make pasta salad around the Indonesian dish of grilled meat satay? In this easy recipe, chicken is seasoned with curry powder and soy sauce, then sautéed with noodles, carrots, cabbage, and peanuts. Everything is dressed up in a regular satay sauce made with peanut butter, lemon, and coconut milk.
Recipe: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
This orzo salad would make an incredibly healthy lunch. It’s Mediterranean-inspired and filled with cucumbers, chickpeas, spinach, and feta cheese. A simple dressing includes lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, and garlic, which complement fresh basil well.
Recipe: Two peas and a pod
Pizza as pasta salad? Sure, and your kids will love it too. Think of it as an Italian pasta salad full of things you would find in a pizza, like pepperoni, green peppers, cubes of mozzarella cheese, black olives, and banana peppers. Although there is no tomato sauce, instead, opt for a homemade Italian sauce with garlic, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan.
Recipe: budget bytes
Pepper heads note this spicy and spicy peanut noodle salad. There’s some oleic sambal in the peanut sauce, but it’s the jalapeño and Thai bird chilis that really pack a punch. Red peppers, cucumbers, bean sprouts, and tons of fresh herbs help soothe your mouth.
Recipe: Serious eats
Mexican street corn, or elote, is popular across the United States and makes a great addition to a summer picnic or meal in the form of this pasta salad, especially when using fresh corn off the cob. Roasting corn in a cast iron skillet is a great way to replicate the roasted flavor, and feel free to increase the chili powder or chili for more heat.
Recipe: lemon blossoms
Sesame noodles are incredibly quick to prepare, and only take as long as noodles to cook. While it is boiling, mix all the other ingredients together. The noodles are best tossed in sauce while they are hot, but they can be enjoyed at any temperature and are great leftovers.
Recipe: life pans
Related: 50 easy salads that make the most of summer produce