Warmer weather has me wanting to be outside, and one of my favorite dishes as a side for grilled meat or as a light lunch, is my zesty pasta salad. It’s full of crunchy veggies and marinated in a delicious zesty dressing. I always make this early in the day to make sure it has plenty of time to soak up the tangy flavor. You can make this up to a day in advance, which is perfect for when you are busy in the garden or just enjoying being outside. It’s a crisp and cool dish for a day out enjoying the warm sun.

Belle’s Zesty Pasta Salad

½ pound pasta (Ziti, Rotini, or Penne)

1 cup carrot sticks

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 (2 ounce) can sliced black olives

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 (0.6 ounce) packet Zesty Salad Dressing (dry)

1 tablespoon salad seasoning or non-salt seasoning (Like McCormick’s or Mrs. Dash)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup water

Cook pasta in boiling water for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and broccoli and cook another 2 minutes. Drain it all and then place in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, olive, and green pepper and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together the salad dressing, seasoning, vinegar, oil, and water until smooth. Pour over the pasta and veggies and mix well. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins and a grandmother of eight. She is a cookbook author and novelist. For more recipes and information, visit her website www.brendastanleybooks.com.