Whole Grain Pasta Salad with Ham and Summer Vegetables

by Sarah on June 21, 2010

You ever get to Monday and you’re saying to yourself, “Self, what the Sam Hell are we going to eat for dinner and bring for lunch this week”?  Probably not.  But I say that to myself all the time.  Yeah, I talk to myself, so what?

Now, last week it was hot–well, at least hotter than it’s been here in Sacramento for a long time, so something cold sounded mighty good.  I decided on a pasta salad, one packed chock full o’ vegetables, a bit of pork and a nice tangy dressing.  Killing a couple of birds with one stone on this one, make a bunch and pack it for lunch all week.

You can use whatever  vegetables you wish, but I had some zucchini and yellow squash, green beans, roasted piquillo peppers, some ham and fresh corn.

If you use green beans, cook them until al dente and cut them into bite-sized pieces.  Cut the peppers into bite-sized pieces too, and just cut the corn off the cob, but leave it raw.  Cube the ham.  Boil the pasta until al dente and rinse until cool.  Did I mention that I used whole grain pasta?  I did.

Now, I would recommend grilling these squash on an actual grill–you can do it in advance, like if you have a bbq the night before…….OR you can make do with what ya got and put them in a grill pan.  I marinated these for a few minutes in olive oil, balsamic and salt and pepper.  Lay them down in a smokin’ hot grill pan and just get them marked then take them out and let them cool.  Don’t cook them till they’re “done” or when they’re cooled they’ll be mush.

Time to mix up the dressing.

Herbs, garlic, mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil.  Don’t forget the salt and pepper!

Buzz it up.  Voila, dressing!

Toss it all in a big bowl.

Mix it up, add dressing and season again with salt, pepper and chili flakes.

Now, I get that this may not look like a very hearty dinner, but when it’s 90* on a Monday night, this is exactly what hits the spot.

Cool, crunchy, hammy and just hearty enough with the wheat pasta.  And I ate it for lunch for 3 days and never got tired of it.  That’s good stuff!

Whole Grain Pasta Salad with Ham and Summer Vegetables


  • 2 lbs. whole grain or whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 6 small squash, zucchini and yellow squash, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 lb green beans, blanched and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 jar roasted piquillo or red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2-3 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob
  • One 1/2" thick slice of Virginia ham, cubed
  • 4 Tbsp assorted fresh herbs, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • salt, pepper, chili flakes


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the green beans first until cooked but still a bit crisp. Remove with tongs and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Bring the water back to a boil and pour in the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  • Marinate the squash with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes. Grill in a HOT grill pan or on your barbeque. Just let them get marked on both sides but don't cook them all the way through or they'll be too mushy. Remove from the pan and set aside. When cool, cut into 1" pieces.
  • To make dressing, place the herbs, garlic, mustard, and vinegar into a food processor or blender. Drizzle in the oil until the mixture is thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Toss all the salad ingredients into a big bowl. Drizzle with as much dressing as is desired. Season with salt, pepper and chili flakes.

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