Whats 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, Ive 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, dont 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.
Does The Occasion Call For A Pasta Salad Heres A Pasta Salad Recipe Thats As Fresh As It Is Delicious Using Briannas Italian Vinaigrette Dressing
- 6 ounces pepperoni sausage, diced
- 6 ounces provolone cheese, cubed
- 1 package uncooked tri-color rotini pasta
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
- ¾ cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 can pitted black olives
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup BRIANNAS Italian Vinaigrette Dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
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!
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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.
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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How To Make Cold Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing
First: Boil the noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.
Second: Rinse, chop and prepare all vegetables such as cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and onion. Set aside until ready to mix with the pasta when the noodles have cooled. This step can be done while the noodles are cooking.
Third: In a giant bowl mix together the cooled pasta noodles, prepared vegetables, goat cheese crumbles and 1 cup of your favorite Italian dressing.
I love to mix this in a large Pyrex mixing bowl with the lid on it and give it a good shake to mix all the ingredients together. Then refrigerate it in the container until it is ready to be served. This pasta salad is wonderful served both cold or warm and is great to take to potlucks and BBQs and parties.
Should I Make Pasta Salad From Scratch
To be perfectly honest, you dont have to make pasta salad from scratch. Your local supermarket deli likely carries it, and you could certainly buy it there. But itll 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. Thats pretty hard to beat!
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My Tips For Making This Recipe
If you are using a bottled, store-bought ranch dressing then be sure and use one that you love! I really like the Litehouse brand that you find in the refrigerated part of the produce area in the grocery store.
This salad is so delicious with my homemade ranch dressing . No matter if you use homemade ranch dressing or store-bought, be sure that it is COLD. If you add warm, room temperature ranch then it will make the salad that same way.
Tri color rotini pasta is the best one to use for this salad. The noodles have much more flavor than just regular rotini noodles. They are easy to find in any store so be sure you use them.
For the parmesan cheese you can shred your own from a wedge or buy a bag/container of shredded parmesan cheese. This is what I do cause it’s easy.
Like any pasta salad, this will dry out once it’s in the fridge for several hours. This salad can be served right away OR refrigerated for 1-2 hours at the most before serving. Leftovers are fabulous! Just add some additional ranch dressing and mix it up, and it’s good as new.
One recipe of the homemade ranch dressing is the perfect amount for this salad. When I eat leftovers of it the next day, I just add some bottled ranch dressing and it’s fabulous.
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!
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We Are All About Cold Pasta Salad
Cold pasta salad, broccoli salads and coleslaw recipes are all made with freshly chopped vegetables and tossed with various versions of a delicious dressing. Some recipes use mayonnaise and some recipes use an oil and vinegar base. We use store-bought Italian dressing to make this recipes easy. Just look for a brand that is most natural and does not contain high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.
Pasta Italian Salad Notes On Ingredients
Here are the usual players for my classic Italian pasta salad ingredients:
If you have them to use up, or your garden is overflowing, these are also great additions:
- Red onion
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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
Italian Pasta Salad Faq’s
- Do I Have To Use Rotini Pasta?
- You can use whatever pasta you want, but I highly recommend using rotini pasta because it absorbs and holds the dressing really well in it’s ridges.
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Vegetables And The Extras
Now that you know what type of pasta and dressing to use, it is time to add in the extras. Here is where you can customize the Zesty Italian Pasta Salad to your liking.
The recipe included below is my favorite everyone likes it recipe. However, feel free to mix up the vegetables and add a few other speciality ingredients.
For instance, add in a handful of diced pepperoni. Or how about small mozzarella balls?
And if you like black olives, you can even add those in as well. The choices are endless when it comes to homemade pasta salad.
Although the ingredients listed below dont include olives, cheese or broccoli, feel free to add whatever ingredients that you like into your pasta salad!
Variations Of This Cold Pasta Salad
One of the great things about this cold pasta salad recipe is that you can change things up with what you have on hand. I always keep cucumbers, string cheese and roasted red peppers in my fridge and pantry. I am sure you have already noticed that with all of our other pasta salad recipes.
Meats: Change things up by adding grilled chicken, salami, pepperoni, bacon, or ham will all work well with this cold pasta salad recipe. Just chop the pieces small before adding them into your pasta salad with Italian dressing.
Veggies: I love cucumbers and tomatoes in my cold pasta salad recipes. But you can add different veggies to change things up and use what you have on hand. The more colorful the better I say when it comes to making this Italian Pasta Salad recipe. Fresh veggies including, bell peppers , red onion, carrots , and broccoli are all perfect veggies for pasta salad. I also like canned veggies including black olives, artichokes and roasted red peppers when making cold Italian pasta salad.
Pasta. When making pasta salad I like using either rotini pasta, the tri color pasta is also perfect for adding more color to this easy pasta salad recipe. If you do not have either of those on hand you can use whatever small noodle you have on hand.
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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 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!
Italian Pasta Salad Recipe Tips
Want a Vegetarian Pasta Salad?
My version includes meat, but you can easily add more vegetables and/or garbanzo beans to make it vegetarian!
How much pasta salad per person?
This is a popular dish to bring to summer pot lucks and barbecues, and its really easy to make for a crowd!
- I allow 2 ounces of pasta per person when its a side dish.
- When the pasta is mixed with the vegetables and other add-ins, it comes out to roughly a heaping cup of pasta salad per person.
How much pasta salad for 50 or 100?
If we use the 2 ounces per person rule, you need:
- 100 ounces of pasta if youre serving 50 people ,
- 200 ounces of pasta if youre serving 100 people .
Consider how many other dishes will be at the table as well. If theres just one other side dish, youll likely need all this pasta. If this Italian pasta salad is just one of MANY side dishes, you can get away with allotting about 1.5 ounces of pasta per person.