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What do you put in your pasta salad?

Ahhh...Pasta salad. No two are alike. I've had some with fusilli, bowtie, macaroni, penne. With oil, with potatoes, olives, dill, capers, tomatoes, garbonzo beans...So many different variations of one of my favorite things. I make mine with orzo, red onions, orange bell pepper, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, italian parsley, a bit of mint, lots and lots of feta, and greek vinagrette. I love it. What do you like in yours?

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  1. I like to grill or roast the veggies with olive oil, s&p, then dress with a fresh herb vinaigrette. I usually use whole wheat pasta, so I tend toward bolder flavors: zucchini with red onions, kalamata olives, red peppers, avocado, a lot like your combo. In fall, I like to include crispy kale leaves (yes, roast the kale, it's delicious this way!) and olive oil breadcrumbs for some textural interest. Sherry vinegar is a good complement to the kale, or a little finely zested lemon if you prefer.

    1. Lots of variations out there.
      I like to add fresh peas. Also sometimes I"ll
      add in a little artichoke & garlic cream,
      or eggplant & olive cream. Gives it a nice creamy touch.

      1. I like to use tricolour fusili, but I was at a picnic this summer where the pasta salad was made with tortellini!!!! I thought it was so original and delicious. I love to add sun-dried tomatoes, corn, grilled onions, and zucchini in mine. But I am going to try it with orzo tonight!

        1. I do shrimp & shells with frozen (not canned) peas, celery, green onions and radishes. Sometimes black olives. Either straight mayo or curried mayo dressing not real heavily done.

          1. My favorite macaroni salad is tuna, celery, red onions and pineapple, dressed with Miracle Whip, white vinegar and a touch of sugar.

            4 Replies
            1. re: JungMann

              You're baiting people, aren't you?
              I'm not gonna bite.
              Miracle Whip AND pineapple, AND even more sugar?
              Sounds like a tuna fish sundae.

              Hey - it goes both ways. I'm sure I eat a lot of stuff that you'd find questionable as well.

              1. re: gordeaux

                I know, I know --- it sounds terrible, and I found myself questioning the first time I made it. But the combination works really well for me and the end product is a very balanced sweet-and-sour. Sometimes I underdress the salad a bit and inundate it with Sriracha for a sweet chili version. My mother used to make an alternate version with beets as well.

              2. re: JungMann

                Cute. You are a midwestern boy through and through. All is forgiven for you not liking tater tot hot dish. :)

              3. Pasta salad is a kitchen sink kinda thing for me. If I'm making it, it's gotta be seasonal veggies, and / or what's on sale. Don't think I'd be using tomatoes in Decemeber for mine. The only thing I do the same way each time is the dressing:
                I like to emulsify it using evoo, white wine vinegar, dash of fresh lemon juice and a TON of garlic in the cuisinart along with the prerequisite S&P, and other assorted spices.
                Chopped fresh basil and parsley are also required.

                * In spring, then the fresh garlic is splaced with scapes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gordeaux

                  i totally agree with that.

                  man, i love making pasta salad. i make it for every summer event. camping, cookouts, potlucks, beach parties.. all of it. i make sure to make plenty of leftovers for the chef and i as it seems to get better with time.

                  i almost always use penne though, roasted red peppers, yellow bells, basil, capers, feta, dried oregano, dijon, red wine vinegar, evoo, red onion. those are what i use pretty much universally. but sometimes there will also be green beans, corn, tomatoes, asparagus, eggplant... whatever is seasonal. i use lots of veggies on mine and i love to garnish it with a huge poof of spring greens or something to add crunch.

                  ahhh, pasta salad. i do love this thread.

                2. I always use rotelli, with grilled chicken, mozzerella, sun dried tomatoes, black olives, arugula (or spinach) and pine nuts.
                  With a good Balsamic dressing

                  1. A different view for consideration should you ever serve guests(FYI).....many people do not like any type of acid in pasta salad.....and if the pasta salad is dressed too soon before serving, it will absorb too much vinegar for some tastes.

                    1. Love pasta salad- a few favorites:
                      Bow tie pasta with LOTS of fresh garlic, fresh thyme and grilled chicken, a splash of lemon juice and loots of oilive oil. Sometimes we add steamed seasonal vegetables.

                      A comfort food type recipe: Elbow pasta, onion, sliced green olives, cubed extra sharp cheddar and mayo.

                      1. Pesto (made with basil or parsley or cilantro, usually) + diced, vine-ripened tomatoes + diced mozarella

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cimui

                          That one would be lovely with cheese tortelini.

                        2. I'm one that finds many pasta salads too acidic for my liking. I have a summer party stand-by that is adapted from the 'Santa Fe pasta salad' recipe in the ReBar cookbook. It contains:

                          - fusilli
                          - candied salmon
                          - feta
                          - pine nuts
                          - lots of toasted corn
                          - grape tomatoes, halved
                          - lots of fresh sage

                          Dressed with:
                          - pureed: chipotles/adobo sauce + maple syrup + olive oil + roasted red peppers + garlic + lime + salt

                          1. Whether it's an oil-and-vinegar based pasta salad (typically with lots of vegetables) or a more traditional mayonnaise-based one, I never fail to boil a few eggs and mince them into the salad. It makes the salad more "mellow" and rich-tasting.

                            1. Trader Joes makes a product called harvest blend. It's orzo, couscous, baby lentils amd baby garbonzo beans. It's meant to be a hot side, but I mix it with grilled vegetables finely diced and a vinegarette made with sherry vinegar and evoo and serve it at oom temp..

                              1. Besides tuna macaroni and tricolor twists antipasto salads, I make a salad with macaroni, cubes of spam, celery, onion and hard boiled egg with Hellman's mayonnaise. (Yes, my father was in the war and I was raised on spam.) Another one is macaroni, diced green pepper, cucumber, celery, onion, sweet pickle relish and parsley mixed with Hellman's mayo and French salad dressing.

                                1. Sometimes I like just plain pasta and a good homemade Thai peanut sauce. Other times I like a chilled tuna pasta salad with celery, onions, mayo and olives.

                                  1. Let's see...

                                    tri-color rotini
                                    cheese tortellini
                                    cubed ham, pepperoni and salami
                                    cubed cheddar, havarti and tiny cubed/ chopped parmesean
                                    canned or jarred artichoke hearts - sometimes marinated, sometimes not, if it is, I save the oil for my dressing
                                    broccoli florets
                                    cauliflower florets
                                    vinaigrette made with evoo/vinegar/basil/s&p and grated parmesean

                                    I think that's it. Sooooo good.