Picnic Pasta Salad Season Is Here

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Repeat after us: You will not buy gloopy, mayo-clad, made-yesterday pasta salad from the deli container this summer. No way. As the most-fun salad of all the salads (seriously), summer pasta salad is the one irresistible picnic side we just can’t wait to make, partly because of how crazy-easy it is to throw together.

Taken cold with an array of pasta shapes, the pasta salad genre can take so many different forms, each fresh, satisfying and bound to bulk up your picnic without much effort. Toss these bold summer pasta salads at home for on-the-go eating ideal for any outdoor potluck, low-key picnic or backyard cookout you come across this summer.

Make your first pasta salad of the season extra-special by doing it up with cheesy tortellini. Rachael Ray uses the tender store-bought stuffed pasta for an extra-satisfying Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad (pictured above) that will be the star of the potluck from the very first spoonful.

Picnic season is all about freshness, but there’s something to be said for a side dish that can be thrown together on the fly. Geoffrey Zakarian’s Italian Chicken Pasta Salad tosses the elbow macaroni of your youth with store-bought rotisserie chicken, diced hard salami, roasted red peppers and more for an easy, herb-packed, protein-filled Mediterranean salad.

You would expect tomatoes and cheese out of your Italian pasta dinner, so it only follows that the pair will work when the need for cold pasta salad arises. Ina Garten’s Tomato Feta Pasta Salad gets its flavor from a sauce of sun-dried tomatoes, red wine vinegar and capers, plus a scattering of Kalamata olives and quality feta cheese.

Fresh citrus kicks up this recipe for 5-star Lemon Pasta Salad, complete with corkscrew pasta, briny feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and green peas. To be a true picnic champion, pack the dressing, veggies and pasta in separate containers so that you can toss the salad just before eating, for best results.

A picnic is no time to be nagging your kids to eat. Luckily, Ree Drummond’s Kid-Friendly Pasta Salad is chock-full of all the things kids like to eat. Fun-shaped pasta, cubed cheddar and crispy bacon will reel them in, but ingredients like basil, green onions and sweet grape tomatoes will appeal to your big-kid sensibilities.

From its use of thin strands of spaghetti to its Asian influences, Ina’s Crunchy Noodle Salad is a bit of a departure from the customary pasta salad scene. An invigorating sauce of rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger and peanut butter clings to every bite, and fresh veggies bring on a bold, satisfying crunch.

Get more pasta salad recipes from friends:

Feed Me Phoebe: Spicy Shrimp Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Sundried Tomatoes

The Lemon Bowl: Roasted Garlic Vegetable Pasta

TasteBook: Quick & Easy BLT Pasta Salad

Dishin & Dishes: Asian Noodle Salad

Weelicious: Summer Succotash Pasta Salad

Homemade Delish: Red Lentil Pasta Salad

The Mom 100: Pasta Salad and Salmon with Ramp Dressing

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spring Pasta Salad With Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli & Spinach

Taste with the Eyes: Lemon Ricotta Pasta Salad with Figs and Mint