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Do You Really Like Pasta Salad?

As warm weather approaches, pasta salads will begin popping up on other peoples' tables--never mine unless it comes as a potluck offering. As you can tell, I really don't like pasta salad, though I can eat hot pasta every day of the week. So be honest, between pasta salad and any other kind, would you pick the pasta? (PS If necessary, I can tolerate Pesto Pasta Salad but that's because I love pesto.)

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  1. If I had to, I could choke down a tuna/pasta salad. It would be a last resort though. So, between pasta salad and any other kind, I'd pick egg salad, because I could cheerfully eat my weight in deviled eggs.

    1. I'm not a fan of the old tubular pasta salads, but I tried an orzo salad the other day and it was splendid! It had bell peppers, capers, olives, feta, oregano. Yum! So, no, I wouldn't turn my nose up at all pasta salads necessarily.

      5 Replies
      1. re: KayceeK

        That sounds great. Big orzo fan here. Not a fan of the drowned-in-dressing salads that Leo mentions below.

        1. re: Bob W

          Orzo and shrimp salad with lemon dressing, devine!!! Do rice noodles count? I love a Thai salad that I make with rice noodles and tons of fresh herbs with a lime dressing.

        2. re: KayceeK

          I like orzo salads too. The greek version (feta, olives, etc) and last July 4th I made Barefoot Contessa's orzo with roasted vegetables and it was great.

          1. Most pasta salads I seem to encounter are of the macaroni-and-vegetables-in-Italian-dressing variety so I take a pass on that.

            1. Nope, but I really do like cold noodles with sesame sauce and I don't mind adding all sorts of veggies and chicken to that.

              1 Reply
              1. I prefer pasta salad to hot pasta. I think it's likely due to the fact that I love most ingredients that you find in salad vs. hot pasta. I love eggs, mayo, olives, celery, raw bell pepper, etc...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Jelly71

                  See, an old-school pasta salad like that actually sounds good to me.I need to start hanging out at church suppers or something.

                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    I'd tend to prefer those items with potatoes. A kind of potato salad I've enjoyed at people's homes in Italy (no mayo though, olive oil). These people only liked pasta hot, even in summertime. I won't generalise about contemporary Italian home cuisine.

                    I agree about soba with sesame oil or peanut sauce - a whole other critter, and good served cold.

                    Many posters have a salient point about vegetables. Yes, they are good for the health, and delicious if properly prepared. But mismatched, badly chopped veg can be really gross. (Just think broccoli on pizza).

                2. I love them but I am picky. I love *my* macaroni salad with lots of onion, garlic, celery, egg and dill pickles and best foods mayo. I dislike the ones that are made with sweet relish or miracle whip.

                  I like all kinds of Asian peanut cold noodle salads and Greek or Italian vinaigrette or pesto salads -when made with care and not "slopped" together using random veggies. I have had alot of those at potlucks :(

                  1. I like pasta salads, but not really the traditional ones loaded with mayo (kewpie is another story).

                    During the summer, I make a pasta salads using cooked and chilled farfalle.

                    Lightly heat up some olive oil with fresh peperoncino, garlic, fennel seeds, and dried oregano.

                    Toss the cooled farfalle with the herbed oil, halved cherry tomatoes, arugula, a little fennel frond, some ricotta, and some pecorino.

                    Perfect mid-day lunch that's nice, refreshing, and very tasty.

                    1. I do like pasta salad- especially in the summer. I tend to make a large batch with lots of ingredients (broccoli, garbanzos, cheese, artichokes, ranch dressing, fresh dill, cherry tomatoes, etc.). It's a great, healthy, easy meal and as most dishes like it, it only gets better over a couple of days. Plus it doesn't heat up the house.

                      1. I love pasta salad, but not the kind made in stores as it's overly sweet with a grody corn syrup dressing, even the mayo based ones. But homemade, yeah.

                        1. I guess I like pasta salad as a contrast to other food. In some circumstances, I like having something cold and vinegar-y on my plate.

                          1. I make my own version of "Suddenly Salad" with diced cheese (whatever white cheese I have on hand), black olives, diced pepperoni or whatever flavorful meat I have on hand, and some sort of vinaigrette. Yeah, not necessarily healthy.

                            Pasta salads I see at potlucks usually have onions added in, except for one time when the person who made it said her daughter-in-law also hates onions, so I was able to scarf that one down~

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tracylee

                              I make something like this too. I love it with very al dente radiatore and julianned slices of provolone, pepperoni, and artichoke hearts, among other marinated veggies.

                            2. Traditional pasta salads? No.

                              Pasta "salads" that are just chilled pasta dishes? Yes.

                              1. I'm not really a pasta enthusiast, but others in my household are, and a noodle salad in the fridge makes summer schedules a lot easier. We've reached a happy compromise where pasta salads have a high vegetable-to-noodle ratio, and are not heavily dressed. Outside of my own kitchen's reaches, I rarely partake in a pasta salad, unless it's a family shindig and, well, you just *have* to. It's mostly a food side-trip then - interesting enough, but not part of regularly scheduled programming.

                                1. I get a craving for good old fashioned macaroni salad, if I make it and control what goes into it.

                                  However, rotini pasta (tri-colored or not) drowned in Good Seasons Italian Dressing with a bunch of too big, not finely chopped, and not at all to my taste veggies is what I think of as pasta salad, and I've had way way too many bad ones so I will pass on the general pasta salad at the buffet or potluck.

                                  **everyone seems to think their own is special, but my experience has taught me to say "no thanks"

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: laliz

                                    That's the kind I find much too often--either drowned in dressing or virtually none at all. And they often include raw vegetables that really should be cooked. Now give me an old fashioned macaroni salad and I might.....no, I'd rather have that mayonnaise heavy version with potatoes instead.

                                  2. I like old fashioned macaroni salad but pasta salad with a bunch of stuff thrown in, no way. I feel the same way about potato salad. When I was trying to learn how to cook, before internet, all of those pasta and potato salads were in magazines, etc. And I made them all. And, those were the first dishes that taught me less is more.

                                    1. We seem to be breaking in exactly two different directions here: these guys love old-fashioned, simple mac salad and hate it when they get fancy enough to be called "pasta", while THOSE guys despise macaroni salad (especially with - ick! - mayonnaise) and love any pasta dish, preferably non-tubular, served chilled.

                                      Please count me in with Group 1. I come late to macaroni salad, having had nothing but the gooey sweet kind until I met Mrs. O, who made hers with only mayonnaise, chopped celery and pickle relish. I don't care for pickle relish generally, but it was a light enough touch here, just enough of a sweet tangy note. I played with the recipe a bit and settled on the same equal-parts mayonnaise and buttermilk base I use for coleslaw, and it was a hit; now *I* get to make all the macaroni salad!

                                      I can deal with fancier pasta salads, if they're on a buffet and look at all interesting. The worst I've had was from a friend who's a trained chef and restaurateur, at his house: a salad of cold cheese tortellini. Almost gagged me, and he was so PROUD of it …

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        I was trying to think about the worst example, and I think cold tortellini is it....especially when those awful canned black olives are added for "flavor."

                                        1. re: escondido123

                                          Well, I happen to love those olives, and yes, there were some in that salad. Big problem was he dressed it with a bland vinaigrette, and in addition had overcooked the tortellini, so the things were all kinda glued together in a gummy semi-discrete mass. Of course the BIGGEST problem is that tortellini, ravioli or any other kind of filled pasta begs for a simple presentation, just a broth or a sauce.

                                          1. re: Will Owen


                                            I'd rather eat plain cold tortellini as opposed to tortellini drowned in dressing. (I like the olives too.)

                                            1. re: Bob W

                                              I grew up with those olives in the can and always hated them. The first I ever liked were the oil cured black ones. I've now branched out to Kalamata in the jar but still find the canned one to be a poor substitute. Well, to each his/her own.

                                            2. re: Will Owen

                                              We love old fashioned macaroni salad, and can eat well-prepared pasta salads. Unfortunately, most of the saleds we end up being served at picnics involve using a bag of mixed frozen veggies and a bottle of Italian dressing -- blech. Are fresh veggies just too much for some people to consider? I will give all olives a pass -- some of the canned and jarred are fine.

                                        2. Yes, there are a lot of pasta salads that should never see the light of day, but a good one (macaroni or otherwise) is one of the staples of an outdoor meal or picnic.

                                          1. I like pasta salads that include crunchy veggies and either a vinegar or pesto based dressing.
                                            Although my childhood memories take me back to tuna and mayo based pasta salads.

                                            1. I like this one: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... and one where I toss goat cheese, olive oil, lemon peel, and garlic with hot penne until the cheese melts, then toss that with arugula and cherry tomatoes, but those two are it.

                                              The traditional mayo-laden kind? Not in the least.

                                              1. I've had pasta salads that were great, and others that were awful.

                                                One of my favorites is often found in the salad bar at Jason's Deli - it's farfalle with pesto, spinach, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and some sort of feta-ish cheese. It's delicious, salty, briny, with slight creamy notes from the cheese and a little acid from the tomato. I will happily eat a bowl of that anytime.

                                                On the other side of the equation, the stuff smothered in mayonnaise or store bought oversweetened 'Italian' dressing is just awful in every since of the word. Cloyingly sweet with no balance of (or really any) flavor; it just leaves me saying blech, and pass.

                                                1. I like cold soba noodle salads in the summer. With carrots, red cabbage, bell peppers, cucumbers, avocado and cilantro? Yum!

                                                  But creamy pasta salads repulse me.

                                                  1. Pasta salad is one place to really make use
                                                    of your mandoline or your Benriner.

                                                    Choice of veggies abound, but one thing is sound,
                                                    it's best if they're prepped to 1/4 by 1/8 inchers.

                                                    Dressing of 1/3 mayo and 2/3 vinaigrette
                                                    to give cling to green peppers and zucchini
                                                    who will nestle and jostle and then fit just right
                                                    into those ridges of al dente Rotini.

                                                    Dressed lightly, then shaken in ballooned plastic bag
                                                    will avoid may factors that make people gag.

                                                    The result is of tiny discrete crunchy veggies
                                                    climbing and clinging the ramps of the spirals
                                                    Not at all clumped per your deftly light dressing
                                                    You've achieved pasta salad orgasmal.

                                                    1. I love pasta in general but not cold and slathered in mayo. or with bottled salad dressing, big crunchy vegetables, slimy noodles...yuck. But i'm also not a huge fan of potato salad either. German potato salad I can get behind. There is bacon in it--what's not to love? And its typically served warm.

                                                      1. I think one of the best pasta salads that I can eat all day is a Hawaiian macaroni salad I had while I was in Maui. A genuine Hawaiian macaroni salad is just plain awesome. however, I just havnt had any success here in making it. But other than that, I can't choose between either. Pasta salads can be so good on hot days and hot pastas are good anytime of the year. A staple in my diet.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Roarasaur

                                                          This is supposedly the recipe for Hawaiian macaroni salad from a well-known magazine: http://www.inspired2cook.com/2009/09/...

                                                          Sounds delish!

                                                        2. Do I like pasta salad? No, I don't. I do like old fashioned potato salad, although I seldom eat it. I've taken to making a good broccoli salad as a sub for pasta salad, or potato salad, for that matter.