Summer pasta salad that’s perfect for BBQs and parties! This flavor-packed pasta salad is tossed with fresh strawberries, baby spinach, tangy goat cheese (or feta), walnuts and homemade lemon poppy seed dressing.
I just LOVE pasta salad so much! Well, I actually love any kind of pasta, but cold pasta salad is my jam. I think it’s honestly because of all of the fresh vegetables and flavor-packed dressings. I mean really, you can pretty much throw any of your favorite vegetables into any pasta salad and make it work. Who wouldn’t love that?
I feel like everyone has a classic go-to when it comes to summer parties or BBQs, and mine for a very long time has been my Creamy Summer Arugula Pasta Salad. You know, the Italian pasta salad that everyone loves so much, but BETTER. When I was a kid, my mom always mixed together Italian and ranch dressing to make it super creamy and delicious! And boom, my favorite pasta salad was born. To add my own twist and give it some bite, I like to add arugula – it’s the perfect addition. Makes it seem a little healthier too 😉
But, enough about that pasta salad, let me tell you about this Strawberry and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad! The flavor combination is simply amazing. The fresh, sweet strawberries pair perfectly with the earthy baby spinach, and the homemade dressing is so delicious. The best part? The dressing isn’t all goopy like the stuff you buy at the store and you know exactly what ingredients are in it!
What I really think ties this pasta salad together though is the goat cheese. Its creamy texture is just perfect with the pasta. Don’t knock it till you try it. And, if you tried it and still knock it, I’ll let you sub in feta without getting too upset 🙂
Now that it is BBQ season, I’m going to have a tough time deciding between making my Creamy Summer Arugula Pasta Salad and Strawberry and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad… but of course you can see why; they are both so darn good!
And have I ever told you how indecisive I am? Like the world’s most indecisive person. EVER.
I sure am glad it’s spring though, with summer right around the corner! Even if it means making “big” decisions like which pasta salad to bring to a party, I wouldn’t trade it for any other season! I am so ready for bonfires, grilling, lake days, kayaking, summer nights under the stars, and just enjoying the outdoors.
In fact, tonight was my first time this year eating grilled meat! We marinated T-bone steaks (from a grassfed cow we raised right here on our farm, per usual) for 5 hours and grilled them to medium-well perfection. Yes, I said it. Medium-well. That’s how I like it. No blood for me. Thanks. And they were perfectly tender and delicious.
Tomorrow night, my family and I are venturing to Stoney Acres Farm just down the road for some pizza on the farm! I know, seems kind of weird since, ya know, we have our own farm, but what we don’t have is a big outdoor brick oven. Might need to try to convince my dad and brother to build one 😉 But, seriously. This will be my first time eating at Stoney Acres, so I’m super pumped! They also now brew their own beer, so it should be a fun night.
On Saturday and/or Sunday, I’m hoping to catch some sun. Might have to bust out the kayaks! I'm also thinking I should make my Strawberry and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad for the family!
I hope you all have an amazing weekend and are able to get outside to enjoy this beautiful weather!
More of my favorite summer salads:
- Creamy Italian Ranch Pasta Salad
- Tequilaberry Salad
- Chipotle Chicken and Blood Orange Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
Strawberry and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
- 1 pound pasta I used Rotelle
- 1 pound fresh strawberries hulled and halved or quartered
- 4-5 ounces baby spinach
- 4 ounces goat cheese crumbled
- 1 cup walnuts
Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
- ½ cup canola oil no substitutes*
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup mayo
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions, until pasta is al dente. Once done, drain pasta and rinse under cold water.
- In a large bowl, toss together pasta, strawberries, baby spinach, goat cheese, walnuts, and lemon poppy seed dressing.
- Serve immediately or place in the fridge for a couple hours and toss before serving. If the pasta is going to sit longer than that, reserve about half of the dressing for drizzling on right before serving, as the longer the pasta sits, the more sauce it absorbs. Enjoy!
Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
- Place all dressing ingredients except for the poppy seeds into a blender and blend until well combined, about 20-30 seconds. You can also use an immersion blender.
- Once blended, use a spoon or whisk to mix in poppy seeds.
- If goat cheese isn't your thing, crumbled feta is a good substitute.
- If you're wondering if you can substitute olive oil for canola oil, the answer is NO. It changes the entire flavor of the dressing because olive oil has such a strong flavor. Trust me, I tried it. Either use canola or vegetable oil.