How to Make Pasta Salad
Although pasta salads are typically a summer bbq food, my family enjoys pasta salads all year long. My favorite thing is how diverse pasta salads can be. In my house, if I have ingredients that I want to use up, I toss them all together with a little cooked pasta. To learn how to make pasta salad, use the guide below to find a perfect flavor profile to match your pasta ingredients.
Learning how to make pasta salads is very simple, and only takes a couple minutes.
Much like homemade marinades, there are basic flavor components that come together to create a well balanced dressing. You need:
- An Oil (2 parts): Olive oil is my favorite, but if you want a creamier salad, you can opt for mayo, sour cream or yogurt.
- A Vinegar (1 part): Red wine, white wine, apple cider, rice wine and balsamic vinegar are all great choices.
- Seasonings: See below.
Depending on what type of pasta and extras you have in your pasta salad, you can cater your pasta salad dressing recipes to compliment those flavors. Here are some great additions for your dressing:
- Fresh herbs: Basil, thyme, mint, oregano, parsley, dill and cilantro are great choices.
- Alliums: Garlic, shallots, scallions and onions.
- Citrus: Fresh squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice.
- Other: Dijon mustard, sriracha, and sesame seeds.
Mix ’em Up
Once you have your oil, vinegar and seasonings, mix them together and pour your homemade dressing over your pasta salad. I usually do a ratio of 1/4 cup of dressing for 2 cups of salad, but recommend that you start with a little, and increase the amount of dressing as necessary. You can always add more, but it’s hard to take too much back!
Although you can put practically anything into a pasta salad, here are a few classic additions.
- Pasta: Cavatappi, corkscrew, shells, bowtie and rotini are a few of my favs. You can check out this pasta shapes dictionary to see how many different options there are!
- Veggies: Bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers and peas.
- Meat: Pepperoni, ham, bacon, and chicken.
- Cheese: Mozzarella, feta, cheddar and ricotta.
- 1 lb rotini pasta
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup black olives
- 1/2 cup cubed mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup diced chicken or ham
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Once cooked, rinse pasta with cool water, and drain. Toss with remaining pasta ingredients.
- To make the dressing, combine all ingredients and whisk until fully incorporated. Pour dressing over pasta and toss.
What are your favorite recipes for homemade pasta salad? Share your recipes in the comments!