Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jun 28, 2012 02:56 PM

Party Pasta Salad Recipe Needed

I have a 4th of July party and have been asked to bring the pasta salad. I'd like a simple but creative recipe with no meat. Looking forward to your best recipes!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. i love orzo for summer because it's not as heavy as the larger pastas.

    Makes 8-10 servings

    10 large black olives, pitted
    2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
    3-4 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
    1 cup dried cherries (halved if very large)
    ½ cup crumbled feta cheese or ricotta salata
    ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
    freshly ground black pepper to taste

    1 lb dry orzo, cooked, cooled and transferred to large serving bowl

    Add first 7 ingredients (olives through tomatoes) to bowl of food processor, and blend until it reaches the consistency of a loose paste or very thick sauce. Pour or spoon over cooked orzo, and toss gently until thoroughly coated. Fold in cherries, cheese and nuts, and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

    if those flavors don't work with the other dishes being served it's easily altered, and i'd be happy to offer some suggestions for tweaks if you need them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      looks good, ghg.

      i like tortellini salads with feta or mozz cubes, halved grape tomatoes (more flavor), black and stuffed olives, capers, artichokes, red bell pepper, italian parsley, cukes, finely shaved fennel or celery -- whatever you like from the mediterranean repertoire -- dressed with a garlicky-lemony vinaigrette (maybe with fine-diced sun-dried tomatoes). (for meat eaters, i also love to add salami or pepperoni cubes). i garnish with those banana pepper rings on top, with some halved tomatoes and a lemon slice, cut and twisted.

      you can do the same with any pasta, including orzo, or grains like quinoa. it is a simple, flexible formula for bright & savory flavors, and varying texture.

      1. Pesto Pasta - Make your pesto if you can, or buy a good brand like sauces and love or something fresh (though I still like home made) - mix at least half pesto and half mayonnaise for your dressing - add halved cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and/or blanched string beans. Might need some extra salt and pepper....Top with extra shredded parm and some basil chiffonade.

        3 Replies
        1. re: harryharry

          I too suggest Pesto Pasta, though I would recommend cutting it with olive oil and maybe some water rather than mayo. Love the cherry tomatoes and string beans--might even consider some diced steamed new potatoes--and the fresh mozzarella though I would skip the parm but keep the chiffonade.

          1. re: escondido123

            The mayonnaise keeps the pesto green so you can make the salad plenty of time ahead. I've made this in many incarnations and this is always the most popular. Garnish how you like, but there is parm in the pesto so no reason to skip it.

            1. re: harryharry

              I understand if you blanch the basil leaves for a few seconds they will retain their green color so that would be an alternate way to keep the color.

        2. I like orzo too. You can make these mostly ahead of time but mix the components before you leave for the party.

          Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

          Orzo with Tomatoes, Feta, Green Onions

          1. I always have good luck at my terrazzo parties with fusilli al pesto -- normal pesto alla genovese over fusilli, served at room temperature. Even better is to boil green beans and diced potatoes in the same water as the pasta. This should properly be done sequentially, but you can do them together if you watch the timing.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mbfant

              thanks all..we had a 50th b day party same venue last week and I made Orzo salad with basil, black beans and fresh roasted corn..the folks didn't devour it..pretty mainstream group..will try the tortollini suggestions. I don't love mayo so thanks for alternate ideas.