First- the dressing. The dressing has to be flavorful but also needs to keep the pasta from drying out. I decided on a 2-step light vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and spices.
I whisked together the dressing and then added most of it (reserving a couple of tablespoons) to the just-cooked pasta. I let the pasta cool in the dressing so the noodles would absorb the flavor. Then right before serving, I added the remaining dressing and tossed it together to rehydrate the pasta and give the salad more moisture.
Second- the veggies. The salad ingredients need to be flavorful and provide texture to make the salad interesting and fresh. This salad has some delicious mediterranean vibes – roasted red peppers, olives, lemon, and cucumbers. These give this oil-free pasta salad depth and complexity. The olives are a pop of savoury, the roasted peppers a touch of smokey, and the diced avocado give a creamy consistency.
It all came together and works really well! I’ll be serving this as an easy BBQ side dish all summer long!