After a long, harsh winter, it is time to give your tastebuds a break from hot food. There is no danger that you’ll burn your tongue on any of these dishes, because all of these pasta salads are served cold. Plus, pasta salad is easy, fresh vegetables can make it healthy, and protein from meat or beans round out the meal. There are countless ways to prepare pasta salad, and we’ve got seven that you need to check out.
1. Pepperoni Pasta Salad
When you don’t have a lot of time to spare preparing dinner, make Taste of Home‘s pepperoni pasta salad. It serves between 4 and 6, and limits your time in the kitchen by using a pre-made dressing. Make it before heading out the door or starting a time consuming task, and by the time you’re done, the pasta will have cooled and your meal will be ready to serve.
- 2 cups uncooked tricolor spiral pasta
- 1 cup cubed cheddar cheese
- 1 cup coarsely chopped cucumber
- 1 small tomato, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 28 pepperoni slices
- 1/2 cup zesty Italian salad dressing
Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, cheese, cucumber, tomato, onions, and pepperoni. Add salad dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
2. Lemon Poppy Seed Pasta Salad
A sweet pasta salad with fresh spring flavors like lemon and strawberry is in store for anyone who makes this dish from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. For the chicken breasts, a combination of olive oil, salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash chicken grilling blends was used for seasoning before cooking — however, you can season the chicken to your tastes or use leftover chicken.
- 1 box (16 ounces) Radiatore Pasta
- 2 cups chopped chicken (2 boneless skinless chicken breasts)
- 1 cup chopped strawberries, stems removed
- 1 cup red grapes, sliced in half
- 5-6 miniature yellow bell peppers (or 1 and ½ large one)
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans, or sub slivered almonds
- 1/3 cup feta cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries, optional
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon light mayo
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (do not use regular)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon zest of a lemon
Directions: Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cool water. Meanwhile, prepare the fruits and vegetables — chop the strawberries (remove stems), halve the grapes, chop and remove the stems and seeds from the yellow peppers, chop the celery. Combine the fruits and vegetables with the chopped pecans and craisins. Mix together gently. Stir in the pasta and mix gently.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with salt, pepper, and (if desired) Mrs. Dash chicken grilling blends to taste. Lightly coat your skillet with 2 to 3 teaspoons olive oil. Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Place the chicken in the skillet and then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 8 to 12 minutes.
As the chicken cooks, turn it occasionally so it browns evenly. If it starts to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low. Remove the chicken, allow to cool, and chop. Add to the salad.
Meanwhile, combine all of the dressing ingredients in a large jar. Shake well to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until completely combined. Sprinkle feta cheese over the salad. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge. Return any leftovers to the fridge in an airtight container.
3. Spaghetti Squash Greek Pasta Salad
Not all pasta salads need to be made with the traditional grain. For a grain-free option, try Recipe Runner‘s spaghetti squash pasta salad. It is an allergy friendly option that doesn’t skimp on flavor — just carbs.
- 1 small to medium sized spaghetti squash, roasted and cooled
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and diced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, diced
- 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, diced
- 3 tablespoons feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey, more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray. Split the spaghetti squash in half and scrape out the seeds.
Spray the flesh of the squash with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Lay the squash cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the squash cool to room temperature before scraping out the flesh with a fork.
In the meantime, dice up the cucumber, roasted red pepper, kalamata olives, shallot, and cherry tomatoes. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Once the squash has cooled, scrape out the flesh into a large bowl. Add in the vegetables and dressing and toss together. Top the salad with feta. Serve immediately or refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
4. Spicy Asian-Style Pasta Salad
You don’t have to go to Greece to get an international flare for your pasta salad. Bon Appétit would rather take you to Asia with this recipe via Epicurious. It makes enough to serve six.
- 1 pound linguine, broken in half
- 4 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 red bell peppers, seeded, thinly sliced
- 3 cups snow peas
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Directions: Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain very well. Transfer to large bowl. Whisk 3 tablespoons sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, vinegar, and cayenne pepper in small bowl to blend. Season with salt. Mix half of dressing into pasta. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, peas and onion and sauté until just beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add vegetables to pasta. Mix in peanuts, basil, and enough dressing to coat. Serve, passing any remaining dressing separately.
5. Grilled Southwestern Pasta Salad
Of course, you don’t need to leave the U.S. to get a flavorful meal. Women’s Day has created a pasta salad inspired by the Southwest and will have you taking advantage of the warm weather to get outside and grill.
- 8 ounces multigrain or whole-wheat penne
- 8 ounces lean boneless sirloin steak
- 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, salt and pepper
- 3 medium poblano chile peppers, halved and seeded
- 1 ear fresh corn, husked
- 1 medium sweet onion, sliced ½ inch thick
- Nonstick spray
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut in bite-size chunks
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Directions: Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted water as package directs. Drain; rinse under cold water and drain again. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
Heat outdoor grill. Rub steak with 1/4 teaspoon each of the cumin, salt, and pepper. Coat steak, peppers, corn, and onion with nonstick spray.
Grill steak 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, for medium-rare. Remove to cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Grill peppers, corn, and onion 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed until lightly charred and tender. Cut peppers and onion into bite-size pieces and cut corn off cob; add to bowl with pasta. Slice steak thinly against the grain and add to bowl. Add remaining cumin, salt, and pepper and remaining ingredients to bowl; toss to mix and coat.
6. Spring Pasta Salad
Sandwich King and Food Network Star Jeff Mauro gave this springy recipe to Food Network, which uses a mix of fresh and frozen ingredients. At the end, ricotta salata (pictured) is sprinkled on top of the dish; this cheese, The Kitchn explains, is an aged and saltier version of fresh ricotta.
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 12 ounces cavatappi pasta, cooked to package instructions and shocked under cold water
- 4 ounces asparagus, blanched and thinly sliced on the bias
- 1 box frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted yellow peppers, chopped
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
- Ricotta salata, for garnish
Directions: For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, lemon zest, and juice, and season with salt and pepper.
For the pasta, toss the pasta with the asparagus, peas, roasted peppers, tomatoes, shallots, and dill. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat. Let the salad hang out for a bit to soak up all of the flavor. When ready to serve, bowl it up and shave some ricotta salata over the top to seal the deal.
7. Tortellini and Tomato Salad
Tortellini, a stuffed pasta, already has plenty of flavor and when it is paired with tomatoes, onions, basil, and corn, the result is a salad brimming with tastes that is anything but boring. Make this Southern Living recipe for a mouth-watering meal.
- 2 (9-ounce) packages refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
- Salt and pepper
Directions: Prepare tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, process olive oil and next 5 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Toss olive oil mixture with hot cooked tortellini, tomatoes, and next 3 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.