Pasta salad help
I've never been a big fan of pasta salad. The typical pickle and tiny tube salad of my youth holds no appeal. Recently though, looking forward to the summer, I've tried my hand. Thinking that the treatment that works so well for potato salad, sprinkling the hot main ingredient with rice vinegar before it cools might work well for pasta, I tried it and it helps.
Now, I'm looking for suggestions for additions and final dressings. So far I've gone for olives for the earthier flavors and asiago cheese. For the brighter, I've used lemon juice, red bell peppers and parsley and mint and just used EVOO for a dressing.
What else should I try?
I find with pasta salad, that adding the dressing a la minute works best. The pasta can really suck up the dressing if you put it on too far ahead of time. It leaves the pasta bloated and the salad dry.
With the ingredients you are working with, I find that orzo is far more interesting than pasta for a summer salad but maybe replace the asiago with a high quality feta.
I have homemade mustard beans and I use it for a potato salad. It's great, just toss with boiled baby new potatoes, no oil. But it must be eaten same day because it is just dry and nasty the next day. I'm sure it would be nice with penne or fusilli.
My standby pasta salad is: tri-color rotini or rotelle, italian tuna in olive oil, kalamata olives, broccoli and baby carrots cooked with the pasta (the carrots for the full 11 minutes, the broccoli for the last 5 minutes) topped with fresh grated parmesean and Italian dressing.
Can't fail, keeps well and is never leftover. I make it a couple hours ahead to let the flavors mingle.