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Pasta Salad recipes

Hi I was wondering how pasta salad is made these days. What ingredients are you using to make the perfect pasta salad?


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  1. My recent fave is penne, oven-dried tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, and torn basil with a simple mayo/oikos dressing. You can add diced chicken for protein.

    1. My current favorite is Confetti Pasta Salad. It's using a ditalini pasta, diced red/green/orange/yellow peppers, diced red onion, diced celery, mayo, dijon mustard, s&p, paprika, thyme and lemon pepper. It's very colorful and tastes wonderful.

      The other is the good old standby of Rotini pasta (I like rainbow), cubes of cheddar and swiss cheese, onion and a small jar of pimentos. Top with Italian Dressing.

      Both are huge hits at gatherings and I never come home with leftovers.

      1. I love my pasta salad! Here goes…(this makes a lot)…

        Boil orzo (about 2/3 of a box)
        while that is boiling…

        Halve 1 English cucumber lengthwise, then thinly slice (to make half moon shapes)
        Halve a bunch of cherry or grape tomatoes
        Thinly julienne 1 large orange or yellow pepper
        Very thinly slice about 1/2 of a red pepper (and then slice the slices in half)
        Open a jar of pitted kalamata olives, and slice about 1/2 the jar in half

        Throw all the veggies in very large bowl, and cover with 1 (or more) package of crumbled feta. Once the orzo is done, drain and throw hot over the veggies and cheese. Mix everything vigirously, then refridgerate (the feta kind of melts and coats the orzo). When ready to serve, use whatever bottle of Greek Vinagrette you want to buy. If you are feeling industrious, you can add some minced Italian parsley and mint. Enjoy!

        1 Reply
        1. re: schrutefarms

          Oops…I meant red ONION, not pepper….:)

        2. My absolute favorite is Ina's roasted veggie and orzo salad. It is perfect as is but I have been making it so long I have tweaked it a lot depending on what I have onhand. It is one of those very forgivable recipes!


          6 Replies
          1. re: foodieX2

            I do love a good orzo/veggie salad as well. Good call! I like such a variation. I have a lot of versions of potato salads as well as versions of meat/pasta salads. It's time to be creative.

            1. re: boyzoma

              Totally agree! It's nice to have basic recipes that you can build on. We eat lots of roasted veggies in the winter and I often end up making Ina's recipe with the leftover veggies. Add some leftover chicken or steak and it makes a wonderful lunch to bring to work.

              I do admit to be pretty boring with potato salad. It usually the traditional American version or hot German with bacon. What are some of the creatives takes that you make? Would love some fresh ideas!

              1. re: foodieX2

                Some of my plays on potato salad are:

                Traditional pealed Idaho diced potatoes/diced hard boiled eggs/diced onion/diced pickles/mayo/mustard

                Cooked, quartered baby red potatoes, sliced green onion, dijon mustard, S&P, mayo, dash of red wine vinegar.

                Obviously the standard German Potato Salad

                There is a "mashed" potato salad, which goes over well.

                I also like to do a Dill potato salad.

                I know there is more, but at the moment, I'm brain dead!

                I have lots of others, but they are not "potato or pasta" based.

            2. re: foodieX2

              Another vote for Ina's orzo with roasted vegetables.

              And this one...orzo with tomatoes, feta, green onions.


              1. re: foodieX2

                Thanks! Our daughter-in-law hates tomatoes so this pasta salad looks like she would like it. Hopefully she likes eggplant! Garden basil should be available pretty soon. Looking forward to trying this recipe.

                1. re: dfrostnh

                  Your welcome! Report back and let us know what you think. Enjoy!

              2. My sister makes a great pasta salad with:
                1 lb corkscrew pasta
                1 english cucumber diced
                Kalamata olives
                Chopped sundried tomatoes
                Cherry tomatoes
                Chopped red bell pepper
                Chopped scallions
                Marinated artichoke hearts

                Use some of the liquid from the marinated artichoke hearts whisked into olive oil and a little more red wine vinegar, or lemon if its around. She does shaved parmesan on the side since there are dairy free people in our gatherings.

                Adding in some chickpeas or white beans it makes a great summer lunch.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  Mine is very similar - no olives or sundried tomatoes, though, and with chickpeas/beans. I add crumbled feta cheese and use Ken's Lite Caesar for the dressing (though I like the idea of the artichoke dressing).

                2. BLT pasta salad. Bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, red onion, corkscrew-shaped pasta, a few crumbled garlic croutons.

                  1. Teriyaki Pasta Salad: Cook chicken breasts, shred the meat, and douse it generously with soy sauce and garlic powder. Cook rotini pasta (for maximum surface), drain it, and while it is warm mix it with the marinated chicken. Add chopped green onions, chunks of pineapple, a touch of red pepper, and cashew nuts. Better the next day so the flavors can blend.

                    1. I'm always a sucker for a caprese pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, some short pasta and dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I'll add chopped salami in if I'm in the mood. I did just see a recipe yesterday where strawberries were substituted for the tomatoes and I'm really looking forward to trying that this weekend. http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/5-ingred...

                      1. I do one with a rotini and fresh/fozen peas and a pesto that is cut with pureed fresh spinach and yogurt.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: daislander

                          I do something exactly like that but (haha) with tortellini, and with marinaded artichokes, olives, capers, raosted peppers and those kind of add ins too. But spinach,peas and pesto are a must! Mine is based on my memory of Zabar's version.

                          I have also finally perfected my NY deli style macaroni salad after years of trials and adjustments. I actually worked as a cook at a German style deli through my college years and when I left I thought I'd remember their "secret" recipe. Unfortunately the only thing I did remember was using various brines from the spent jars of gherkins and roasted red peppers; at least gave me a start!

                          1. re: coll

                            Coll, my brother (who moved to Florida in 1974) has also been trying to make his NY style German potato salad....any hints and suggestions would be really appreciated.

                            1. re: PHREDDY

                              This is what I've come up with over the years, but since my husband and his family are not fans, I haven't vetted it as much as the usual style potato, slaw or mac salad. But maybe there will be a few ideas here for him.

                              NY STYLE GERMAN POTATO SALAD

                              6 slices bacon, cooked crispy (save the fat)
                              1 hard boiled egg, chopped
                              8 potatoes, boiled and sliced as thin as possible
                              1/2 cup chopped onion, fried in the bacon fat
                              parsley to dress before serving

                              3/4 cup white vinegar (Heinz or Old Dutch preferred)
                              Tbsp grained deli mustard
                              3/4 cup sugar
                              1/2 cup water
                              salt, pepper and celery salt to taste
                              pinch of caraway seed

                              Boil above brine items with a bit of cornstarch. Add the sautéed onions and then dress the salad. Serve warm or at room temp.

                            2. re: coll

                              A few years ago TJ's had frozen artichoke tortellini that made a lovely pasta salad with frozen artichoke hearts (not the marinated kind), scallions, sweet red peppers, olive oil, and lemon juice. Then the artichoke tortellini disappeared. But if you can find it, this makes a nice combination .

                              1. re: Querencia

                                I did use Trader Joes, the assorted dried tortellini. They've been sitting in the back of my pantry for months so it was time to do something.

                          2. Lately I've been making Whole Foods Orzo w/ Spinach and Feta pasta salad. Super simple to make and really good. Here's the recipe:

                            Boil some orzo and toss it with chopped kalamata olives, diced red onion and celery, sliced green onions, rougly chopped baby spinach, pine nuts, feta, a tiny bit garlic, and toss everything with balsamic vinaigrette. I usually add the feta after dressing the salad so it doesn't disintegrate and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld.

                            1. I think any pasta salad can be improved by making it with a grain like farro or wild rice instead.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: magiesmom

                                Stuff a dozen or so cooked/chilled large manicottis with a mixture of diced cucumber/ chopped asparagus tips/fine chopped lettuce/fine chopped watercress/rough chopped cooked chilled prawns (lots)/s&p to season and enough japanese mayo and lemon juice/drop of ginger juice and a pinch of wasabi to make into a filling.
                                Arrange on a bed of nice lettuce leaves. Drizzle a thinner mixture of the same ingredients used to make the stuffing over the pasta. Tiny sprinkle of black sesame seeds.
                                Garnish with a few nasturtium flowers and thinly sliced radishes.
                                Sounds like a lot of work but if you get all the ducks in a row first it's quick and easy.
                                Make sure to take some photos. LOL

                                1. re: Puffin3

                                  What is Japanese mayo? This sounds intriguing!!

                                  1. re: thymeoz

                                    You can order on amazon but any store with japanese/asian groceries will have it.

                              2. I make a lot of pasta salad in the hot summer months. Sometimes I plan it and sometimes it's whatever's on hand. I love a caprese version with tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing. Another favorite is a bunch of veggies chopped up and homemade Italian dressing. For a main course, we've been loving buffalo chicken pasta salad - a pasta that will grip sauce (we like rotini or penne), ranch or blue cheese dressing mixed with hot sauce to taste, green onion, celery, and diced chicken (throw a few extra on the grill for this). Easy and so tasty!

                                1. So many great recipe's you all posted. Thank you and can't wait to try some out.

                                  1. We have two basic pasta styes at the house.
                                    For the fhe first I use either little shells or elbow macaroni (DH uses penne sometimes, or farfalle but I don't like those as well), and add peas, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, sliced black (canned) olives, oregano (I use Mexican), thyme, marjoram, etc., and mix in a bunch of lemon juice right before serving so it doesn't have a chance to bleach out the peas.
                                    The second is the old-school type- elbow macaroni, sliced olives, diced celery, garlic salt, onion salt (not sure why but it isn't the same without them, I never use them for anything else), salt, pepper, and mayonnaise.

                                    1. Has nobody mentioned pesto?

                                      It is the ultimate in a pasta salad. Add some cherry tomatoes, black olives and boccacini cheese.


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. I've made this for several gatherings at friends' houses, and it went over well. Someone also made it this weekend and liked it a lot!


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          After reading the other thread, I am filing it away for my July 4th party...it sounds great!

                                        2. I recently saw this recipe for Greek Tortellini Salad. I put it on my summer potluck list. I haven't tried it yet, but don't see how it could be anything but delicious!


                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: pagesinthesun

                                            I made that last summer for a party and it was a huge hit.

                                          2. A couple of variations I like to make:

                                            - Orzo with Cucumber & Feta, tossed with Olive Oil & Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest and Fresh Mint. (Season to taste, of course)

                                            - Pasta Salad (mini Penne) with Tuna, Sliced Black Olives, Fresh Dill, & Mayo. No need to add salt since the tuna has plenty, but I do add fresh ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon to brighten it up. (Use the tuna in a pouch packed in oil, no canned tuna packed in water).

                                            1. I made this for a BBQ recently and people went nuts over it http://www.melskitchencafe.com/bbq-ma... Definitely will be my go to this summer for bringing to BBQs

                                              1. I have three "go to" versions that I make. All have been requested at one time or the other by friends and family when I go to BBQ's.

                                                The first is just a pasta-based tabbouleh. I'll use small rotini, elbows or shells and mix with a very generous amount of chopped parsley, chopped mint, tomatoes,chopped vidalia onion and a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil. I usually also sprinkle some Zaatar over it to add to the flavor.

                                                The second is a mexican style orzo salad that my friends love:

                                                1 lb of whole wheat or regular orzo, cooked
                                                1 can of sliced black olives
                                                2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
                                                1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained well
                                                2 green onions, chopped (I use the entire onion)
                                                2 tablespoons of chopped fresh Cilantro
                                                1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine
                                                Salt/Pepper to taste
                                                For the dressing, Juice of two limes, 1/4 cup of good olive oil, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. Mix the dressing well and pour over the salad, tossing to coat.

                                                All the proportions can be tweaked to taste. Sometimes, i'll add some cubes of cheddar cheese, sometimes I'll use a bit more or less cilantro or leave it out if people are squeamish.

                                                The final recipe I got from my Mom. It's a traditional Mayo-based pasta salad and it's not health food by any means, but it's very comforting for me, and I can easily eat bowls of it if I'm not careful. I also get asked to make it all through the summer. I've made a couple of tweaks to my mother's version.

                                                1 pound of any shape small pasta
                                                1 bag of either Broccoli Slaw or Cole Slaw mix (found in the produce aisle of the supermarket)

                                                Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and add to a large bowl. Mix in the raw Broccoli or Cole slaw mix.

                                                There is a general dressing recipe that I usually don't measure carefully, I just go for taste. It should have quite a nice vinegary tang to it and the pasta be well coated. Tweak it as you like for your own tastes.

                                                2 cups Hellman's mayo (if you use Miracle Whip, I can't be held responsible)
                                                1/2 cup white vinegar
                                                2 packets of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix (or any brand you like)

                                                Mix dressing ingredients well. It should have a good consistency of ranch dressing. Taste for seasoning. If it's too sour for your tastes, add a bit more mayo. Don't forget it's supposed to be a strong concentrated flavor so when it dresses all the pasta and veggies, it will still have some kick. That's why I love this version so much; it's not bland like most mayo-based salads.

                                                Reserve 1/4 cup of dressing and toss the salad with the rest. Chill in the refrigerator. If it needs more dressing, toss with the reserved dressing just before serving.

                                                1. Here's a great one from 101 Cookbooks website that continues to get requested. It is a little different in that it's made with arugula, elbow macaroni, lemon and green onions:


                                                  Sorry, I am having trouble posting the link.

                                                  1. This is phenomenal if you're not looking for something mayo-based. I made it for a girlfriend's bridal shower and I have never had so many requests for a recipe in my life. I also added chopped blanched asparagus. Really, this is so good.


                                                    1. Orzo with Everything is my go-to. Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pignolis, etc.


                                                      1. I'm no Giada fan, but I do like this recipe, which a friend recommended to me. http://www.food.com/recipe/orzo-salad...

                                                        1. I like an al dente radiattore or fusilli with a little minced onion and red bell pepper, Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, grated Romano, and olive oil and either red wine, balsamic, or Sherry vinegar. I've tried all three. They are all different but all work. Sherry is my fave.