1. Choose a Pasta
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook 1/2 pound of any of these pastas as the label directs; drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Pick a Protein (Optional)
Add 1 cup of any of these ingredients, if desired.
3. Pick Your Vegetables
Add 2 of these vegetables or beans, 1 cup each. (To blanch vegetables, boil until crisp-tender, then drain and cool in ice water.)
4. Pick a Mix-In
Add 1/3 cup of any of these ingredients.
5. Dress the Salad
Make one of these dressings, then pour over the pasta salad and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Chill for up to 3 hours.
Whisk 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 minced shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.
Whisk 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons sour cream, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup 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 cup olive oil over medium heat, stirring, 3 minutes; let cool. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix 1/4 cup each mayonnaise and sour cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon finely grated garlic, 3/4 cup grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.
Design your own dinner, or try one of our ideas:
Pasta Salad With Steak, Bell Pepper, Green Beans and Bacon
Pasta Salad With Tuna, Celery, White Beans and Olives
Pasta Salad With Salami, Carrots, Peas and Roasted Red Peppers
Pasta Salad With Chicken, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes and Feta
Pasta Salad With Asparagus, Corn and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Photograph by Kang Kim