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Summer Pasta Salad with Fruit Salsa

Updated June 16, 2017
This image courtesy of Matt Armendariz

Editor's Note: The next time you're invited to a potluck or cookout, impress the crowd in a big way with this recipe for Summer Pasta Salad with Fruit Salsa. Featuring bold flavors and an assortment of vivid colors, this pasta salad is one that everyone will love. This easy pasta salad recipe is easy to make, too, and can be customized with the suggested variations from the recipe's authors. You can easily serve this pasta salad with burgers, bratwursts, ribs, or grilled vegetables, so keep this versatile recipe up your sleeve the next time you need to whip up a side dish for a party.

Queso fresco — Spanish for "fresh cheese" — is the kind of wonderfully light cheese you can cat a ton of without tiring of it, even on the hottest of days. Salty, bright, and tasting of fresh milk, this cheese is a perfect snack for a sweltering afternoon. Paired with a sweet-tart summer fruit salsa, queso fresco’s signature soft personality is highlighted by a generous amount of fruity acid. This cheese has a lighter flavor, though some varieties are saltier than others. If you feel that your cheese is on the saltier side of the spectrum, reduce the amount of salt in this dish by half. You may also find this cheese under the name queso blanco.

Serves4

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

Occasional Fresco, Buffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get Together, Picnic

Recipe CourseSide Dish

MealBrunch, Dinner, Lunch

Taste and TextureFruity, Sweet, Tangy

Type of DishFruit, Pasta, Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup chopped mango
  • ½ cup chopped yellow peaches, skin on
  • ½ cup chopped strawberries
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped mint
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • ¾ pound queso fresco, crumbled
  • Additional lemon juice and sea salt for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, Drain through a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and set aside.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, add onion, pineapple, mango, peaches, strawberries, jalapeño, lemon zest, lemon juice, mint, and sea salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 3 times to get a nice, chunky consistency, but don’t pulverize it into a puree. The goal is big chunks that are coarsely chopped.

  3. Pour the salsa into a large bowl. Add pineapple juice 1 tablespoon at a time until desired sweetness is achieved. Add another squirt or two of lemon juice to taste. Fold in cheese and pasta. Serve topped with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Notes

* Alternative cheeses: Paneer or other mild, salty, milky, fresh cheese

* Wine pairings: Off-dry Riesling, sparkling dry or off-dry Chenin Blanc or Riesling, sparkling or still rosé

* Additional pairings for the cheese: Dried chili peppers, almonds, roast pork, dark chocolate

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