Even though school and fall are right around the corner, there’s still time for a few more picnics and bbq’s. Pasta salad is one of those side dishes that’s a must for these occasions. It’s simple to make and very popular.
But for me the “simple” part doesn’t come till I figure out what I’m putting in the pasta salad. And I have to admit, I never make pasta salads from scratch for that reason. The mix-ins and the dressing are the hardest parts for me. Then Food Network Magazine did a whole section about pasta salads and a guide to making the perfect one. And I’m happy to say I’ve been converted to making pasta salads from scratch! This recipe leads to thousands of combinations!
You’re just 5 steps away from making the perfect pasta salad!
Pick a Protein (optional)
- Chicken, cooked and chopped
- Steak, cooked and chopped
- Ham or salami, cubed
- Roast beef, chopped
- Canned tuna, drained and flaked
- Lump crab meat, picked over
- Shrimp, cooked and chopped
- Eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
- Baked tofu, chopped
Pick Your Vegetables
- Broccoli florets, blanched
- Corn kernels, blanched
- Carrots, shredded
- Chery tomatoes, halved
- Green beans, blanched and chopped
- Frozen peas or snap peas, blanched
- Celery, sliced
- Cucumber, diced
- Red onion, diced
- Bell pepper, diced
- Asparagus, blanched and chopped
- Canned chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed
Pick a Mix-In
- Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- Roasted red peppers, chopped
- Olives, pitted and chopped
- Any cheese, shredded or crumbled
- Any nut, toasted and chopped
- Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Dress the Salad
- Whisk 1/3 c. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1 minced shallot, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper to taste.
- Whisk 1/3 c. mayo, 3 Tbsp. sour cream, 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1/2 c. chopped mixed herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes in 1/3 c. olive oil over medium heat, stirring, 3 minutes; let cool. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix 1/4 c. each mayo and sour cream, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. finely grated garlic, 3/4 c. grated Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.