Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

This Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad is about to become your new favorite pasta salad recipe!  It’s like Strawberry Poppy Seed Spinach Salad but 1000X better!

This Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad is a fresh and bright medley of textures and flavors in every bite.  It’s bursting with rotini pasta, strawberries, avocadoes, mandarin oranges, pears, spinach and macadamia nuts all smothered in bright, sweet and tangy Poppy Seed Dressing infused with lemon juice and lemon zest.  This pasta salad makes a fabulous make ahead fresh side for lunch or dinner or the perfect potluck side that goes with practically everything!

This Pasta Salad is in sponsorship with Walmart.  All opinions are my own.

PASTA SALAD RECIPE VIDEO

pasta, strawberries, spinach, Mandarin oranges, avocados, macadamia nuts in a glass bowl with poppy seed dressing mixed together for pasta salad

Can you believe summer/June is next week?!  I look forward to Memorial Day all year long because then it’s goodbye cold season and hello fresh season!  Last year we kicked off Memorial Day with a family barbecue brimming with summertime eats and this year I plan on bringing this epic Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad – because everyone will loooove this fresh twist on pasta salad.  It’s vibrant, light, crunchy, sweet and savory and simply can’t-stop-eating delicious!

top view of pasta, strawberries, spinach, Mandarin oranges, avocados, macadamia nuts in a glass bowl with poppy seed dressing mixed together for pasta salad

This Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad is overflowing with fresh produce from Walmart whom I am super excited to partner with because I shop at Walmart at least once a week.  In fact, I had just finished ordering my groceries online from Walmart for easy pickup (if you haven’t tried this feature – it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE), when I received their email.  I love that Walmart is your one stop shop for everything from fresh produce to sunscreen to towels which saves time, money and energy – winning!

In addition to the fresh and convenient factor, Walmart uses its scale for good and supports local communities by selling local produce which I believe is super important. Walmart offers a variety of locally grown in season fresh produce delivered to you daily, and is restocked 1x a day with a 100% fresh guarantee.  If you’re not satisfied with their produce, they’ll give you a full refund.  So, if you haven’t been to Walmart lately, today is the day – and this Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad is one of the hundred reasons why.

Mixing pasta, strawberries, spinach, Mandarin oranges, avocados, macadamia nuts and past in a glass bowl for pasta salad

As I previously mentioned, this Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad is a take on your favorite Strawberry Poppy Seed Spinach Salad but with all the bells and whistles.  In short, it’s flavor- texture heaven.  If you’ve never tried lettuce in your pasta salads before – it’s fabulous, so don’t be scared away.  In fact, combining your favorite green salads (or sandwich fixings) with pasta to create a pasta salad is a hot summer trend that I totally endorse.  I’ve combined lettuce with pasta to create my BLT Pasta Salad with Creamy Lemon Chive Dressing (a MUST!) and upcoming Po’ Boy Shrimp Pasta Salad and Cubano Pasta Salad with Mojo Dressing.  But in the meantime, you neeeed this Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad!

up close of strawberries, avocados, mandarin oranges in a glass bowl with poppy seed dressing

HELPFUL TIPS TO MAKE THIS PASTA SALAD

  • I like to use rotini pasta but mini bowtie/farfalle pasta will also work well.
  • It is important to not overcook your pasta – you want it al dente so it still has a little bite otherwise the pasta salad will be soggy.
  • To stop your pasta from cooking after it’s removed from the heat, rinse and drain it in cold water then drizzle it with some of the Poppy Seed Dressing to infuse it with flavor and to keep it from sticking together.
  • Most fruit salad recipes call for mandarin oranges but this name can be confusing. If you go to your grocery store looking for “mandarin oranges” you might come up empty handed.  Mandarin oranges are a class of small, seedless oranges such as tangerines and clementines.  We want either of these types of mandarin oranges in our salad as they are seedless and super easy to peel.
  • I don’t recommend canned mandarin oranges because they tend to fall apart easily when tossed. If you loooove them though, then feel free to use them.  I would suggest refrigerating your canned mandarin oranges first so they taste refreshingly chilled.
  • Take care to use baby spinach otherwise be sure to tear your spinach into smaller pieces.
  • I highly recommend macadama nuts for this recipe but you can also substitute cashews.
  • CHILL your dressing before serving – it tastes WAY better once the flavors have melded and it’s cool.
Whisking together oil, apple cider vinegar, poppy seeds, minced onions in a measuring glass to make Poppy Seed Dressing for pasta salad
  • If you are short on time, stick your dressing in the freezer for 20 minutes then in the refrigerator until time to serve.
  • If you aren’t sure you are going to eat all the salad, only add avocados to the salad you are eating immediately because they will turn brown when stored.
  • Try adding some chicken to turn this pasta salad into a main course!
Mixing pasta, strawberries, spinach, Mandarin oranges, avocados, macadamia nuts and past in a glass bowl for pasta salad

HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY AVOCADO PASTA SALAD IN ADVANCE

This pasta salad is best served the day it is made but can be partially prepared in advance.

  • You can make the Poppy Seed Dressing up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • You can make the salad in its entirety and refrigerate for one hour.  If you want to prep it more than an hour in advance then add the pasta, oranges, and strawberries to a large bowl and toss with half of the dressing.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, add the spinach, avocados, pears and macadamia nuts and toss until evenly combined.
  • If you need to store leftovers, the pears don’t brown due to the lemon juice in the dressing but the edges will slightly.
up close view of pasta, strawberries, spinach, Mandarin oranges, avocados, macadamia nuts in a glass bowl with poppy seed dressing mixed together for pasta salad

Happy fresh eats!   

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

a forkful of strawberry avocado pasta salad
pasta, strawberries, spinach, Mandarin oranges, avocados, macadamia nuts in a glass bowl with poppy seed dressing mixed together for pasta salad

Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

This Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad is about to become your new favorite pasta salad!  It’s like your favorite Strawberry Spinach Salad but 1000X better! This Pasta Salad is a fresh and bright medley of textures and flavors in every bite.  It’s bursting with rotini pasta, strawberries, avocados, mandarin oranges, pears, spinach and macadamia nuts all smothered in bright, sweet and tangy Poppy Seed Dressing infused with lemon juice and lemon zest. 
Servings: 6 - 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes

Ingredients

Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad

  • 12 oz. Great Value Rotini
  • 2 cups packed Great Value baby spinach
  • 1 lb. strawberries sliced or chopped
  • 4 mandarin oranges peeled, segmented
  • 2 Avocados chopped
  • 1 pear chopped
  • 1 4 oz. pkg. Great Value macadamia nuts

Poppy Seed Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Great Value canola oil
  • 1/4 cup Great Value sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Great Value apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoon dry minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Add all of the Poppy Seed Dressing Ingredients to a medium bowl or measuring cup and whisk together with a fork. Chill at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente – don’t overcook! Rinse and drain pasta in cool water. Add pasta to a large serving bowl and toss with a little of the dressing to keep it from sticking together.

Serving immediately/within one hour

  • Add all of the salad ingredients to the pasta. Add desired amount of chilled dressing and gently toss to combine. Serve immediately or chill one hour.

Serving later

  • Add strawberries and Mandarin oranges to pasta and toss with half of the dressing, cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, add pears, avocados, spinach, macadamia nuts, and remaining dressing. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Notes

Don't miss the "how to make" recipe video at the top of the post!

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.

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2 Comments

  1. Wendy says

    What a refreshing take on pasta salad. I can’t wait to make this especially since warm weather finally arrived in the north east. Happy Memorial Day Jen!!!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Wendy, I think you are absolutely going to love it! Happy Memorial Day to you and yours as well! xo