Save last-minute preparation time by hulling and quartering the strawberries ahead; store them in a separate container. For the salad, choose a white or clear poppy seed dressing to show off fresh colors.
In a Dutch oven or large pot cook pasta in salted water according to the package directions, adding the pea pods to the pasta the last 1 minute of cooking. Drain pasta and pea pods. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl. Add melon and toss to combine.
In a small bowl stir together the dressing and orange peel. Add to pasta mixture and toss to coat. Cover and chill up to 24 hours.
To serve, gently stir in the strawberries and, if desired, nuts. If necessary, stir in up to 1/2 cup additional poppyseed dressing to moisten. Transfer to a serving bowl. Makes 25 servings.