The 30 Best Pasta Salad Recipes
Pasta salads those easy side dishes you always see at potlucks and get togethers. But who knew there are so many different ways to make them? Whether your headed to a party, meal prepping lunches for the week or looking for a simple and light new dinner option, youve come to the right place.
If youre stuck in a rut making pasta salad the same way every time, I am here to say, break out of the cycle and invite your taste buds to new delicious flavors!
Oh, have you seen the Suddenly Pasta Salads in stores? Maybe you love to grab them and make them. You can make your own pasta salads, homemade from scratch, honey! They are so simple! Trust me, here.
This collection of 30 great Pasta Salad Recipes from GypsyPlate and around the internet will give you plenty of tasty ideas. Go through the list and see which ones catch youre eye. Theyre all so good!
What’s The Secret To Making Perfect Pasta Salad
Two keys to a great pasta salad are finding the right ratio of dressing to noodles and creating the right balance of add-ins.
First, the dressing needs to be fabulous. Rather than a quick marriage of olive oil and vinegar, create a dressing flavorful enough to stand on its own with tangy, sweet and aromatic nuances.
In the recipe that follows, I’ve shared my ideal pasta salad dressing, a lemon-based vinaigrette that features honey, Dijon, garlic and herbs in proportions that work exceptionally well with the buttery and salty ingredients in the salad.
Secondly, don’t skimp on the dressing. I call for ¾ cup of dressing for twelve ounces of pasta, which may seem like a lot, but the noodles soak up every drop.
Finally, when it comes to the additions, the pasta takes a backseat to the intensity flavors of two types of cheese, salami, bell peppers, red onion, tomatoes, black olives, parsley and basil.
The result is colorful, chunky, salty, buttery, sweet and downright amazing.
How To Make Ina Gartens Perfect Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta according to package instructions in a large pot of salted water. Drain the pasta in a colander and let cool to room temperature. Then, add the pasta to a large bowl with the tomatoes, olives, feta, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Make the dressing by adding the whole sun-dried tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor along with the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper, and pulse until smooth. Pour the dressing over the bowl of pasta, add the Parmesan and parsley, and toss to combine.
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Variations Of This Recipe
- PROTEIN to make this pasta salad recipe non-vegetarian, try adding some mini slices of pepperoni, or salami!
- DIFFERENT CHEESES instead of Feta, try using some shredded Parmesan, tiny cubes of cheddar, etc.
- DIFFERENT VEGGIES zucchini, olives, bell peppers, etc are great additions to this pasta salad. Use whats looking fresh and amazing at the store!
- CREAMY whisk a few tablespoons of mayonnaise into your homemade dressing to make this a creamier pasta salad.
Best Pasta Salad Ever
For this pasta salad, all you do is combine a few ingredients in a bowl, along with some of your favorite penne.
Something about the combination of flavors and textures well, it was so good I had to make a batch for us to have for dinner and leftover/lunches this week.
Mix a few ingredients into a bowl,
After you cook the pasta and run cold water over it -I did 12oz of brown rice penne-
add to the bowl with the rest of the party. Toss to combine.
Heres the video how-to for ya, too SO easy and so good!
Insanely easy, and so delicious. Let me know if you give it a try! I especially love it cold out of the fridge
- One jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
- One jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- One container of feta cheese
- Two fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- Two large handfuls of fresh arugula
- 1/4 C chopped fresh basil, two heaping tablespoons of basil from a tube, or pesto
- Olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
- 8 servings of your favorite penne pasta, cooked al dente in salted, boiling water
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Deviled Eggs Macaroni Salad
This easy Deviled Egg Macaroni Salad recipe tastes just like deviled eggs. Its super creamy and loaded with celery, olives, pickles and red onion. Quick, delicious and ready in 30 minutes!
Youre going to be the hit of every barbecue you go to in the summer! You have to give this a try, especially if you have lots of eggs leftover. This recipe makes such great use of them and this also makes a perfect side dish.
The Queen Of Pasta Salad: Ina Gartens Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
- Overall Rating: 10/10
- Read More:Ina Garten Just Taught Me the Secret to the Best-Ever Pasta Salad
Its rare for me to give a recipe 10/10, but Inas pasta salad deserves it. There arent a ton of different add-ins or techniques used in this recipe. Ina sticks to a handful of classic ingredients that always work well together: fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and feta. Plus, she opts for fusili pasta, which has lots of nooks and crannies to trap all the delicious dressing.
There are two main factors that set this recipe apart. The first is that you only use 1/2 pound of pasta . This might not seem like a big deal, but the result is that the pasta-to-mix-in ratio skews in favor of the mix-ins, which means youre never eating a plain, cold noodle. The second is that the recipe is all about layering flavor. The dressing is made with sun-dried tomatoes, which are like little umami bombs, along with red wine vinegar, garlic, and a whole cup of grated Parm, so it hits all the right notes of salt, acid, and fat. I cant wait to take this to potlucks and barbecues all summer long I know it will steal the show.
Do you have a favorite pasta salad recipe? Let us know in the comments!
Read Also: What Makes A Good Salad
Should I Make Pasta Salad From Scratch
To be perfectly honest, you don’t have to make pasta salad from scratch. Your local supermarket deli likely carries it, and you could certainly buy it there. But it’ll be a lot more expensive, and likely not as good. And this recipe is really easy. Plus, you can make it exactly the way you want, with only the ingredients you want. That’s pretty hard to beat!
Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Salad
Were ending this fabulous list with this great pasta salad recipe fit for any time meal. With Italian seasoned grilled chicken and a good kick of garlic and parmesan cheese, this is one pasta salad that will surely impress anyone!
So, there you go. If this gorgeous collection of pasta salads doesnt inspire you to get more creative, I dont know what will! Be sure to bookmark or pin this post, so you always know where to go for easy party sides or meal prep options.
Let me know what your favorites are. Have fun!
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Greek Style Grilled Shrimp Orzo Pasta Salad
This Greek style lemony orzo pasta salad is filled with the best fresh and zesty flavors. Its loaded with fresh herbs, grilled shrimp, veggies and feta. Perfect for serving as a main dish or side, and easy to customize with your favorite add-ins. It does not skimp on olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs YUMMM.
This Unbelievable Best Ever Pasta Salad Will Be The Hit Of The Picnic Full Of Pasta Cheese Pepperoni Olives Veggies And Topped With A Homemade Dressing This Will Be An Instant Potluck Favorite
Get ready for the Best Ever Pasta Salad Recipe youll ever try! It even has a quick, homemade dressing! Ill be honest, pasta salad is in zero of my childhood memories. My mom just never made it. No worries though, because I still got to eat plenty of delicious food growing up.
When I was searching through a cookbook one day, I saw an interesting pasta salad recipe with homemade dressing. Over the next several months, I tried the recipe out, changing it every time until I felt like it was perfected.
Theres just something so comforting about a nice bowl of pasta salad with my lunch that makes my heart happy. I love this homemade dressing and that it doesnt come from a bottle.
Whats not to love about a good pasta salad recipe? Unless you have a gluten intolerance, pasta is amazing. Add in cubed cheese, sliced olives, mini pepperonis, bell pepper, artichoke hearts and mushrooms and it makes the BEST pasta salad! I recently made this for a Cub Scout function for my boys and it was an absolute hit!
It makes a huge bowl and is the best the next day. I really hope you try it and like it as much as we do!
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What Ingredients Should I Add To Pasta Salad
We wanted to share an extra easy and flexible pasta salad with you. It is straightforward and quick to make. So you can make the best pasta salad, we have shared lots of tips below.
This salad is a mashup between Greek and Italian pasta salad. Greek because we add both Kalamata and green olives and Italian because we throw parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese into the mix.
If you love Greek-inspired salads, take a look at our favorite Greek salad. We also have a homemade Italian dressing, if you are interested.
If you would prefer to leave the olives oil, no problem! Use our recipe as a guide, and then throw in the ingredients you love. We have shared lots of suggestions below.
TheBest Pasta To Use: Pasta is essential, but the type of pasta you use does matter. I like the pasta to bite back a bit and hate it when it turns mushy.
Thats why you should choose hearty pasta shapes like penne, fusilli, rotini, and farfalle . They also have the advantage of lots of nooks and crannies, which trap the dressing and bits of cheese. Other shapes can work, too. Orzo pasta is an excellent option, but make sure not to overcook it.
Add Some Vegetables: An assortment of veggies add color and crunch to the salad. We love adding bell pepper, cucumber or zucchini, halved cherry tomatoes, and thinly sliced green onion . You can add other vegetables, too.
Adding a handful of whatever fresh herbs you have on hand is an excellent idea, too. The more color and flavor, the better!
Frequently Asked Questions About This Recipe
Can any type of pasta be used in this recipe?
Spiral pasta will work the best because it grabs onto the Italian dressing really well, but other pastas work as well. Penne, bow tie, and even spaghetti work for this recipe.
What other vegetables would work well in addition, or in substitution, to the broccoli and cauliflower?
Any crunchy vegetables will work in this pasta salad. Make sure to dice them in small uniform pieces. Carrot, cucumber, bell peppers, and kohlrabi all work as substitutions or additions.
Can fresh spices be used in the Italian dressing instead of dried spices?
Of course fresh herbs will work in this recipe. When its summer and you have an abundance of herbs, its wonderful to be able to use them in many different ways. Use approximately double the amount of fresh herbs as compared to dried herbs. Also, if youre looking for a more herb-forward recipe, try my fresh herb pasta salad.
Do the red pepper flakes have to be added to the dressing?
No, not at all. If you are spice-adverse, use a lesser amount than listed in the recipe. If you like spice, feel free to add even more than suggested. The crushed red pepper flakes do add a depth of flavor and the typical Italian dressing zing, so I would urge you to try the dressing as written before making modifications.
How far in advance can this recipe be made?How long will this pasta salad last in the refrigerator?
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What Are The Best Cheeses To Use In Pasta Salad
My pasta salad features two types of cheese creamy, fresh mozzarella and salty parmesan.
For the mozzarella, you can use mozzarella pearls, or you can cube a block of fresh mozzarella.
Is fresh mozzarella worth the hype?: Absolutely. Here are the recipes to prove it
If you would like to use regular mozzarella instead of fresh, thats OK, but processed mozzarella isnt as creamy or buttery as the fresh varieties.
For the parmesan, freshly grated is preferable, because it’s flavor is nuttier and more robust. That said, if you already have pre-grated parmesan cheese handy, it will work just fine.
How Much Pasta Should I Use In Pasta Salad
Classic pasta salad is made with rotini or spiral pasta, a shape that does a great job holding on to the dressing.
When shopping, youll find that regular rotini is typically sold in 16-ounce packages, while many others, including tricolor, gluten-free and those made with brown rice, chickpeas or yellow peas are sold in 12-ounce packages.
Since the preponderance of spiral pasta is sold in 12-ounce packages, thats what my recipe calls for.
If you choose a 16-ounce package, the ingredients list doesnt change and you will likely still have enough dressing and you can always add a little more olive oil and lemon juice to taste.
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Tips To Make The Perfect Italian Pasta Salad
- Cut your veggies small: Cutting your vegetables into pieces slightly smaller than bite-sized will ensure that you get a taste of everything in each bite!
- Dont overcook your noodles: Overcooking will make a mushy pasta salad as the acids from the dressing will break down the starches farther. Shock your noodles once they are cooked al dente in cold water for best results!
- Cool your pasta before adding the toppings: You dont want to begin to cook your vegetables while you toss everything together!
- Let your pasta salad sit before you serve it: This gives the dressing a chance to really permeate your veggies and pasta, resulting in a more flavorful and delicious Italian pasta salad!
- Keep it colorful: If you are adding some extra veggies you have on hand, keep your pasta salad fun and colorful! I love adding things like artichokes, shredded carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, etc.
What Are The Five Mistakes To Avoid When Making Pasta Salad
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Orzo Salad With Vegetables & Feta
This Greek orzo salad is made with cucumbers, chickpeas, tomatoes, red onion, feta and herbs, all tossed in an herb dressing. A simple, yet hearty, pasta salad that can be served as a main course or side dish. The combination of crunchy vegetables, protein packed chickpeas and creamy feta cheese just cant be beat!
How Do You Like To Serve Unique Pasta Salad Recipes
To be honest we eat these unique pasta salad recipes in a variety of ways. Pasta salad recipes are great, you can eat them for a quick lunch on their own or pair them with other side dishes for an easy to prep dinner.
Another option is to make a variety of pasta salad dishes so that everyone can set up their lunch containers for the week. Much like salad jars these pasta salad recipes will travel well and can be kept in the fridge for a week without going bad quickly or losing their flavor.
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What About A Pasta Salad Dressing
Thank you for asking. This is important.
We need a tangy Italian dressing.
Homemade, in a blender or food processor, so it takes approximately 60 seconds. You made that dressing, you pasta salad boss, you.
Toss together, taste and adjust, and exercise every self-control muscle in your body so as not to eat the whole thing before everyone comes over.
May I offer one last tidbit of advice? You do not need to wait to be invited to a picnic or potluck to get some pasta salad magic in your life.
This is a weeknights dream meal.
Stop at the store on the way home and pick up some good salami and cheese, some olives, and a few fresh herbs. Cook up some pasta, toss it all together, and voila. Cold pasta salad + a glass of rose for dinner, and colder pasta salad as leftovers for lunch all week.
I will be over in a flash.