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Roasted Zucchini Pasta Salad combines roasted zucchini, shell-shaped pasta, crunchy almonds, sweet raisins, and fresh herbs – all tossed with creamy nut butter dressing.
A Delicious Pasta Salad for Picnics and Potlucks
When you’re invited to a potluck picnic or outdoor barbecue, it’s important to bring a dish that can hold up to traveling in the car, as well as sitting out on a picnic table unrefrigerated. This Roasted Zucchini Pasta Salad is a great option!
Inspired by this recipe from The New York Times, we made a number of ingredient changes to suit our tastes – and the results were very delicious!
To make it, roasted zucchini and red onion slices are combined with shell-shaped pasta, pan-toasted slivered almonds, golden raisins, then tossed in a creamy, lemony sun butter dressing. A variety of chopped fresh herbs and some Parmesan cheese are stirred in the at the end. Every bite is a burst of different and delicious flavors and textures that go so well with each other.
This Roasted Zucchini Pasta Salad is served still-warm or at room temperature – so it’s ideal for taking on the road to the beach, picnics, or any neighborhood gathering.
Why you’ll love Roasted Zucchini Pasta Salad
- It’s a uniquely delicious combination of flavors and textures in every bite!
- You can easily vary the salad to include different pasta shapes, herbs, nuts, dried fruit, and roasted vegetables. The dressing is easily adapted to other nut butters too.
- This is another delicious recipe idea to use up garden zucchini.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Zucchini – Choose small to medium zucchini for this recipe as they are more tender than the very large ones and you won’t need to remove the seeds (as long as they are still small).
- Red Onion – We chose red onion for this salad – mostly to add a pop of pink color to the salad. Just about any other onion variety will work just fine in this recipe.
- Pasta – Choose a medium-sized pasta that is shaped with crevices that grab the ingredients and dressing. Seashells are perfect for this recipe, however other shapes such as cavatappi or farfalle will work equally as well.
- Sunflower Seed Butter – You have a lot of wiggle room with this ingredient. We liked the mild flavor of sunflower butter (aka “sun butter”) but tahini (made with sesame seeds), cashew butter, or almond butter will work just as well. Just keep in mind that the final flavor profile will change slightly with a different butter. Peanut butter, however, may be a little overpowering in this salad.
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Garlic
- Almonds – We toasted slivered almonds for this salad but feel free to replace them with sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts. Any of these variations can be toasted as well.
- Raisins – Golden raisins add a sweet pop to this salad. Feel free to replace with any dried fruit such as regular raisins, dried cranberries, currants, chopped dates, or chopped figs.
- Fresh Herbs – We included chopped fresh mint, fresh basil, and fresh parsley.
- Kosher or Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Parmesan Cheese – Pecorino Romano is another cheese option.
Special Tools Needed
- Cutting Board and Sharp Knife
- Sheet Tray
- Large Spatula
- Various Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Large Pot – To cook the pasta.
- Large Bowl – To mix the salad.
- Small Bowl – To make the dressing.
How do I make Roasted Zucchini Pasta Salad?
- Roast sliced zucchini with sliced onions and some olive oil. This step can be prepared in advance.
- Mix the dressing by combining nut butter, the remaining olive oil, freshly minced garlic, freshly squeezed lemon juice and water. This step can also be prepared in advance.
- Cook the pasta to just shy of al dente and drain.
- Mix hot drained pasta with cooked zucchini and onion, raisins, toasted slivered almonds and dressing.
- Stir in grated Parmesan, freshly chopped herbs, and additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tips & Tricks
- Be sure to mix the cooked pasta with the vegetables, fruits, nuts, and dressing while still warm.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Roasted Zucchini and Pasta Salad ahead of time? Yes – you can make various components of the salad ahead of time, then mix together after cooking the pasta. Or – prep the entire salad and chill, then take out of the refrigerator ahead of time to serve at room temperature or gently warm through before serving.
- How do I store leftovers? Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- How do I reheat this salad? We found that the microwave was best to warm the salad. Use a low heat setting and stir frequently to avoid overheating.
- Can I freeze this salad? No, this will not freeze well.
Click here for more delicious Zucchini Recipes!
1 1/2 pounds fresh zucchini squash, about three medium squashes, cut into quarter-inch half-moon slices
1/2 cup red onion, cut into quarter-inch thick slices, about two inches long
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 pound seashell shaped pasta, or other pasta of choice
3 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, or tahini, or nut butter of choice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely minced or grated garlic
2–3 tablespoons water
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Slice zucchini in half the long way after removing stem and cut each long half into quarter-inch half-moon slices. Place onto a sheet tray.
- Cut red onion into quarter-inch thick slices about two inches long. Place that on the tray with the squash.
- Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil, along with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a half teaspoon of black pepper.
- Roast for 15 minutes, flip everything over with a spatula and roast for ten minutes longer. Remove from oven.
- Place the pasta water on to boil but do not put pasta in until you have the other ingredients ready.
- Make the dressing by whisking the sunflower seed butter with lemon juice, garlic and 2 tablespoons of water. Whisk in the remaining three tablespoons of olive oil. Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste. Also feel free to change the consistency of the dressing by adding another tablespoon of water.
- Place almonds into a small saute pan and dry toast over a medium heat until golden. Remove from pan into a bowl.
- Salt the pasta water and cook the pasta just shy of al dente. Drain and place hot pasta into a large bowl.
- Add the zucchini and onion and toss.
- Add the dressing, toasted almonds and raisins and toss.
- Add the Parmesan and fresh herbs and toss. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve warm (ideally) or at room temperature.
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