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Okay so I made this pasta salad...

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I usually think pasta salad's pretty pedestrian and boring, but I hadn't made it in a long time and we were on our way to a cookout. I found out at the last minute we were supposed to bring something and the wife picked up stuff for a pasta salad (with bad pre-made italian dressing and all).

I told her I wouldn't stand for it and made the dressing from scratch and put together something that was passable.

FYI, I used some oven dried tomatoes, cucumbers, grilled scallions/squash/zuchinni and made a simple balsamic vinegar with roasted off shallots/garlic and fine herbs.

It made me appreciate pasta salad again. I'd love suggestions on what else to put in pasta salad to make it more of a full meal, or ideas using the pasta salad concept. Sorry it's such a broad question, just curious as to what you all have going in your pasta salads.

I'm gonna throw some left-over tri-tip and mix in a little bit of chimichurri from last night's get-together in the left over pasta salad and go to town.

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  1. what you did sound really good to me thats how it would do it. like you experianced pasta salad can be good if you put some love into it (griiling the veggies roasting shallots, using fresh herbs) Other items you can use a nice housemade pesto, try different cheeses like feta and play with other simple viniagrettes. Alot of it has to do with just cooking the pasta properly in heavy salted water and shocking it al dente, nothing more upsetting with over cooked unsalted pasta tossed in a premade vinigette and mariniated for what seems like weeks.

    1. Yes, yes, yes ZagChef !! I agree with the cooking tip completely. I make pasta salads often for potlucks, barbeques, picnics, etc. I almost always add green onions and red onions for color, occasionally chopped roasted red peppers, capers, grated parmesan cheese and just before serving add fresh chopped basil and parsley. And to make it seem like more of a full meal I always add kidney beans and garbanzo beans, (canned but rinsed well and drained well.)

      And to go really wild and crazy, use tortellini for the pasta!

      1. I love to use a home-made pesto in the place of the dressing, and then toast some pine nuts to sprinkle throughout. I add vegetables as you do, choosing what it in season. I used sun-dried tomatoes if the salad is just for us since they don't water down the salad the next day; fresh, drained tomatoes if I am taking it to a pot luck where it will all disappear quickly.

        1. i do one that is so simple but is so good, esp after overnight marinating
          1 lb rigatoni
          1 cup or more chopped tomatoes
          handful julienned chopped sundried tomatoes
          to taste/ handful fresh basil
          1 tsp or more dried oregano
          1 cup shredded parmesan
          1/2 c seasoned rice wine vinegar
          1/3 - 1/2 c olive oil
          salt and white pepper

          1. Depending on the dressing and what if any meat and cheese is in it, almost any choice of nuts, beans, and/or diced dried fruit.

            1. Last year I made a cilantro/hazelnut pesto that made a great dressing. Also good on couscous.

              I just made a good pasta salad the other day: halved cherry tomatoes, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, feta and fresh mint with rigatoni. I feel like it also had green onion? Simple vinaigrette with a bit of the dried tomato oil.

              Roasted veggies are always good, some kind of onion, I like a sharp salty taste from an olive or a cheese. A friend made an unusual one recently with toasted pine nuts, basil, feta, tomatoes and fresh corn.

              1. I love pasta salad in the summer, even if it's just thrown together.

                The one I make the most is chopped red pepper, celery, red onion, shucked corn on the cob and kalamata olives (small or cut in half). After I drain the pasta, I mix together and add a mixture of Helman's and chuncky salsa. I also hold out a cup of the pasta water and add that for extra moisture, because I just don't like mayo heavy pasta salads. I don't use a recipe as I have been making this for years and it's kind of whatever I have on hand in the pantry. For a box of Cavatelli (Barilla pasta), I use 4 celery stalks, 1/2 lg. red onion, 1 red pepper (all small diced), 2 ear of shucked corn and a handful of olives. After it's mixed, I add lots of freshly ground black pepper and at least 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. If I want it for a full meal, I add in some medium cooked shrimp.

                1. Our absolute favorite pasta salad is made with orzo. It's a take on a Cat Cora recipe for shrimp and caper salad

                  http://www.greenbeansnmore.com/medite...