Non-tomato based pasta dishes that can be made ahead of time
I'm trying to find relatively simple recipes for pasta dishes that can be made ahead of time and serve large crowds. I'd prefer them to be non-tomato based as I will already be serving baked ziti, but if you have a fabulous recipe with tomatoes, please share.
Would a cold pasta salad work for your event? I have a few very good recipes for those -- one is mixed veggies in sweet/sour dressing with pasta, another features mandarain oranges, chicken and small ring pasta.
Pestos work well
also pasta tossed with veggies in oil - like artichoke hearts - black olives and roasted peppers with white wine or a good vinegar
sorry on pasta dishes I am not great on pasta recipes usually off the cuff - but a warm pasta salad in place of a style that requires a quick pan made sauce seems to work better.
the biggest trick is keeping the pasta from going mush between the making and the serving - consider making the pasta - al dente - lightly oil and keep dressing separate until serving
pasta that sits in its dressing too long gets mucky - I would say pesto is sort of an exception.
avoid cream based sauces
and choose a pasta shape that will hold up well - something with some bite.
Another fan of the "pasta salad" concept.
A pasta that can be served warm, cool or at room temp.
I cook the pasta al dente. Perhaps even a little "firmer to the tooth" than I would in a ready-to-serve hot dish.
I usually just like to pick a "flavor profile" and riff on that.
For instance a "Mediterranean" inspired dish might be tossed with feta and olives and chickpeas. (A good olive oil and smushed garlic as per usual...)
I usually like to include a wilted green of some sort, and a crunchy element such as toasted pine nuts or walnuts. Add fresh herbs from your garden if you've got 'em.
Oh, and I have found that you can dress the salad ~lightly~ (very lightly!) when you make it. Keeps the elements from sticking together and allows the flavor to develop. I do agree that more dressing should be reserved to be used the day-of or passed at the table.
Another cold pasta option---Cook boneless skinless chicken breasts, shred the meat, and douse it generously with soy sauce and garlic powder. Cook some kind of pasta that has a lot of surface (to absorb flavors)---I use a spiral pasta for this---cook, drain, and while warm mix with the marinated chicken, cut up pineapple (fresh, frozen, or canned), a touch of hot red pepper, and cashew nuts. If you want more crunch, add celery. If you want more flavor contrast, add chopped green onions. But the backbone of this is the teriyaki flavor and that the chicken makes the salad more substantial, an entree really.