Garden Pasta Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

A pasta salad packed with summer's best fresh garden veggies, light on the pasta, generous with the colorful produce and all tossed in a g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s vinaigrette made with fresh mint. It's fresh and summery, perfect for light summer meals, also a bit unusual. No Mayonnaise!

Garden Pasta Salad with Mint Vinaigrette ♥, light on the pasta, generous with the summer's best fresh veggies and all tossed in a g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s mint vinaigrette.

Not-Your-Everyday Pasta Salad. Mini Pasta Like Orzo or Israeli Couscous Plus Piles of Veggies. Beautiful Color! An Easy, Healthy Side Dish Made from Scratch. Hearty & Filling. Fun Picnic Food. Budget Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Potluck & Party Friendly. No Mayo. No Dairy. No Eggs. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.

Oh. My. This Mint Vinaigrette.

Ohhhh people, I sure do hope there's fresh mint in your garden – preferably in an herb pot since unfettered mint might-could one day envelop the world in fragrant spearmint leaves! – because wow, who knew the beauty of a fresh-mint vinaigrette? Certainly not me until now: what a revelation!

The inspiring recipe comes from Pinterest, one of hundreds of recipes pinned but never made. This was way back, but even now, that single recipe keeps getting re-pinned and re-pinned!

Curious, I returned to the source, one of my favorite food blogs, Dana Treat – oh no, I hope all is well, as of this day she's not posted since December 2013 – to experience the real thing, in my own kitchen with my own tastebuds.

Now my recipe is quite different than Dana's recipe.

  • First I up-ended the proportions, using just half the pasta and a third of the vinaigrette for the same amount of vegetables – it's the Kitchen Parade way, a perfect balance of carbs and healthy vegetables, thank you!
  • I also omitted her grilled halloumi cheese and the chickpeas but think they would make fine protein-rich additions for anyone so inclined.
A basket of fresh mint, linked to recipes calling for mint ♥

About This Recipe

  • This is a fresh, summery pasta salad with a high proportion of vegetables:pasta, all dressed in a bright-green mint vinaigrette made with, that's right, fresh mint.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = mini pasta (like Israeli couscous or orzo) + fresh mint
  • Vegetables = bell pepper + cucumber + sweet corn + mini tomatoes + green onion
  • Mint Vinaigrette = salt + garlic + fresh mint + white wine vinegar + olive oil + Dijon mustard + sugar
  • It takes about 30 minutes to make, then 2-3 hours to chill before serving.
  • The salad is quite pretty, thanks to the mini pasta and the bright vegetable colors.
  • This is pantry-friendly recipe for someone who keeps everyday vegetables on hand and grows fresh mint.
  • As written, this is a "small batch" of pasta salad, yielding only 4-1/2 cups, that's about 9 servings. Naturally, it can easily be doubled or tripled or even mixed 3.5X to use an even 1-pound package of pasta.
  • Not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other pasta salad recipes, many also call for healthy proportions of vegetables or for the motherlode of summer salad ideas, dive into my Favorite Summer Salad Recipes, from sides to suppers, make-ahead to eat-it-now, simple to sumptuous, all special for summer.
Garden Pasta Salad with Mint Vinaigrette ♥, light on the pasta, generous with the summer's best fresh veggies and all tossed in a g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s mint vinaigrette.

What's In My Garden Pasta Salad with Mint Vinaigrette? Mostly Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Itty Bitty Pasta Choose the smallest pasta you can find, orzo, riisi, Israeli couscous if you can find it.
  • So Many Veggies Choose your best summer vegetables but aim for crunch, wetness and color. I use an orange bell pepper, an English cucumber, 2 ears of sweet corn, some mini tomatoes and green onion, too.
  • That Gorgeous Mint Vinaigrette! Naturally, it starts off with lots of fresh mint, a quarter cup, packed. After that, it's just pantry ingredients: white wine vinegar, olive oil, fresh garlic, a little Dijon, a little salt and a kiss of sugar.
  • That's it!
PROOF THESE then copy over

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

  • ISRAELI COUSCOUS, ORZO, OTHER SMALL PASTAS A tiny pasta isn't "required" but I do like how size contributes to making this summery salad as much about the vegetables as the pasta. FYI I once used a Trader Joe's product called "Harvest Blend," a mix of Israeli couscous, split peas, couscous and quinoa. It worked "okay" but the Israeli couscous cooks faster than the rest, leaving the other bits a little crunchy. If you can find plain Israeli couscous, go for it. Orzo is probably the easiest mini pasta to come by.

  • FRESH MINT Mint is so distinctive and special here but unless you keep a potful in the summer or find a big bunch in a farmers market, it would be pretty pricey to purchase in those tiny fresh-herb containers in the grocery store. Other ideas? Fresh basil. Fresh dill. Fresh cilantro and even parsley? Yes, I think so!
  • WHITE WINE VINEGAR White wine vinegar is a little bit fruity but its most important attribute in a pasta salad is its light color. In contrast, a dark-colored vinegar would stain the pasta, not pretty. So use a light vinegar, my favorite substitute for white wine vinegar is unseasoned rice vinegar.
  • OLIVE OIL Use an oil that tastes good to you, one with lots of flavor that will complement the fresh herbs or a neutral oil that will emulsify the dressing without sidelining the mint. My favorite neutral oil is grapeseed, a big bottle sits beside the olive oil next to the stove.
  • FRESH GARLIC A little garlic goes a long way here, use a small clove and process it with salt first, before adding any other ingredients to the

  • BELL PEPPER I love the orange color but really, any color pepper will work fine, crunch and color contrast are the important objectives.
  • ENGLISH CUCUMBER I especially love the long, slim English cucumbers for their tender skins, the same is true for the shorter but still slim Persian cucumbers, some times called Iranian cucumbers or mini cucumbers or baby cucumbers. A big garden cucumber is less expensive and will work well too though check the skin, you may want to peel or stripe the skin before dicing and may want to remove the seeds from the center, too if they're tough.
  • SWEET CORN To my taste, corn is essential in this pasta salad for its sweetness, just use a sharp knife to scrape the kernels off each ear, like this, How to Cut Corn Off the Cob, Keeping All Ten Fingers, Capturing Every Delicious Kernel and Every Drop of Sweet Corn "Milk". Canned corn? Nope. Frozen corn? Definitely not unless, possibly, you freeze your own.
  • MINI TOMATOES Grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, just make sure they're fresh and juicy.
  • GREEN ONION Most salads benefit from a touch of onion, not too much though, you don't want to overpower the other flavors. No green onion? Use a little red onion or maybe a shallot and dice it very fine and maybe, soak it in a little cold water to wash away some of the strong onion-y-ness. That's a word, right?
  • OTHER VEGETABLES Think about artichoke hearts, daikon, jicama, kohlrabi, radishes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, tomatillo and zucchini. The goal is crunch, moisture, color, shape.

How to Make Garden Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in four easy steps. You can do this!

  • COOK THE PASTA Be sure to use well-salted water, follow the package directions on timing but do taste occasionally so the pasta has the texture you prefer.
  • MAKE THE MINT VINAIGRETTE While the pasta cooks, use a mini food processor to make the vinaigrette. Why a mini? Because this is such a small amount of dressing, it'd get lost in a large food processor. If you don't have one, you might consider getting one. They're inexpensive and very handy for small batches. This is the newer model of the mini food processor (affiliate link) I've been using for many years. If you don't have one, chop the garlic and mint as finely as you can with a sharp knife.
  • PREP THE VEGETABLES Don't worry, it's just a little chop-chop work. Use a sharp knife and you'll be done in no time.
  • COMBINE & REFRIGERATE Stir the cooked pasta, the Mint Vinaigrette and the chopped vegetables together. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Transfer to a refrigerator container and refrigerate for 2 - 3 hours for the flavors to develop.

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Garden Pasta Salad with Mint Vinaigrette ♥, light on the pasta, generous with the summer's best fresh veggies and all tossed in a g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s mint vinaigrette.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes but best chilled for 2 - 3 hours
Makes 4-1/2 cups
  • 3/4 cup (130g) "small" pasta such as Israeli couscous, orzo or riisi
  • Well-salted cooking water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (assumes Morton's Kosher Salt)
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

PASTA Cook the pasta according to package directions, except they always leave out the salt, don't make that mistake! You should end up with about 2 cups of cooked pasta. Drain well and cool slightly.

MINT VINAIGRETTE In a mini food processor, process the salt and garlic on their own first, ensuring that the garlic is chopped up into tiny-tiny bits. Then chop the fresh mint up. Finally, add the remaining ingredients and process until a bright-green vinaigrette.

GARDEN VEGETABLES Prep the vegetables.

COMBINE Stir together the cooked pasta and vegetables, then stir in the Mint Vinaigrette. Cover and refrigerate for 2 - 3 hours for flavors to develop.

OTHER VEGETABLES? You bet! For the recipe above, I selected vegetables that may remain raw, aiming for a mix of colors, shapes and textures.

But other "raw" vegetable ideas include daikon, jicama, kohlrabi, radishes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, tomatillo and zucchini.

Some other vegetables would benefit from being dropped into the hot pasta water for a minute or two, just to take off their rough, raw edge. To my taste, that would include asparagus, tiny broccoli and cauliflower florets, carrots and green beans.

ALANNA's TIPS Want to scale up to use an entire one-pound (454g) box of pasta? Just multiply the ingredients by 3.5X. That will yield a giant batch of pasta salad, almost 16 cups. This makes sense if you're serving a bunch of people or if you're using the pasta salad as a base (vs a side) for grilled chicken or shrimp, say. What is Israeli couscous anyway? I wrote about it here first, Israeli Couscous Salad with Yellow Squash & Sun-Dried Tomatoes but basically it's tiny round balls of pasta, very sexy! It's some times called "pearl couscous". No fresh mint? Aiii, too bad, too bad, I'm so sorry! But really? I suspect that fresh basil and fresh dill would be fine substitutes. What are "packed mint leaves"? Now don't go looking in your garden or the grocery for "packed" mint leaves. To "pack" mint leaves simply means to select enough leaves that would tightly (vs loosely) pack into a measuring cup. You wondered, right?! Oh! And mint stems are fine, since they're run through the food processor.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 91 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 137mg Sodium; 13g Carb; 1g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2 & future WW points CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 9 tablespoons (4g protein).
Adapted from Dana's Treat.

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. We've got mint that really is trying to take over our garden, but we've got it confined (it grows between the driveway and a fence) so it doesn't have that many places to go. But it's probably make its way into the yard of our next door neighbor. ;-) Anyway, never thought to make a mint vinaigrette. But I will. ;-)

  2. John ~ You really have to be careful with mint -- and garlic chive -- I’ve learned both the hard way. And yes, do try a mint vinaigrette, so ... minty!

  3. this is just so perfect for a light summer salad. definitely giving that mint vinaigrette dressing a go. thanks for sharing!

  4. Thalia ~ Thank you! Let me know how it goes, it’s definitely a show-stopped for summer!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna