Pass the Pasta Salad

If you're tired of your favorite pasta salad recipe, jazz it up by following these simple guidelines.

Related To:

Choose the Right Shape:

Avoid pasta of varying thickness (like bowties)--it cooks unevenly and turns out both overcooked and undercooked at the same time.

Select a pasta with grooves that will catch the sauce. Orecchiette, conchiglie, gemelli and cavatappi are some of our favorites.

Start with dried pasta (not fresh), prepared al dente. After draining, pat dry and place on a chilled baking sheet to cool quickly.

Dress to Impress:

A common dressing mistake is making the dressing too acidic. Steer away from very vinegar-heavy recipes because the strong flavor will overshadow all of your star ingredients. When making a pasta salad, go for something a little more on the subtle side.

Using a mixture of half olive oil and half mayo gives the creaminess of the mayo while introducing the freshness and fullness of an olive oil-based dressing. Add a little vinegar for sharpness. Dressing the pasta before you add mix-ins will ensure that all the pasta gets evenly coated.

Mix in More Flavor:

A good pasta salad has mix-ins that add flavor, salt and spice. Use your mix-ins to create a distinct flavor profile for your salad. Mix-ins for a Mexican profile could include ingredients like black beans, pickled jalapenos and cotija cheese. Mix-ins for a BBQ profile could include shredded BBQ chicken, cilantro and cubed cheese. For a Greek profile, we like cucumber, feta and olives.  

Finish with a Bang:

Finishing is a crucial step in making the perfect pasta salad. Serve in a shallow dish to evenly distribute garnishes so that each bite gets a taste. Add fresh herbs and crunchy toppings to the top directly before serving. Chives, dill, mint, basil, cilantro and Italian parsley are great pasta salad staples. Take it easy on stronger herbs like rosemary, tarragon or oregano.  

Keep Reading

Next Up

Pass the Potato Salad

Create a game-changing potato salad for your next summer party with the perfect combination of ingredients cooked right on the grill.

Pass the Winter Fruit Salad

Citrus is a wintertime staple and can add a fresh zing to any brunch table. Here's an inventive way to feature it in all of its sweet glory.

Pass the Easy and Elegant Chicken Salad

The Kitchen couldn't leave mom out of our Rotisserie Chicken Club, so we're using this humble supermarket staple in our "Pass the Easy and Elegant Chicken Salad" recipe. The possibilities are endless, but we have the basics that make the perfect salad every time.

Gingerbread House

Some clever tips for creating the best gingerbread house on the block, courtesy of The Kitchen.

3 Ways to Use Frozen Ravioli

Learn The Kitchen co-hosts' three ideas for putting frozen ravioli to work.

Yule Log Hacks

No time to make a festive yule log cake from scratch? No problem! The hosts of The Kitchen offer up these quick and easy work-arounds for this traditionally time-consuming holiday dessert.

Iced Coffee Hacks

Transform your favorite refreshing treat with these sweet hacks.

Easy Ingredient Swaps

Forgot to buy balsamic for your favorite glazed carrots? These ingredient substitutions from The Kitchen will save you an extra trip to the store when you're in a pinch.

Pass the Cheese and Cracker House

The holidays are filled with snowmen, cookies and, of course, gingerbread houses. At The Kitchen, we like to do things a little differently, so this year we're making a savory version of this holiday classic--it's The Kitchen's Cheese and Cracker House.

Kitchen Helpline: Your Cheesiest Questions

Here at The Kitchen, we're not above being a little cheesy. We put out the call and you came back to us with some really cheesy questions. Here are a few of the most popular ones from The Kitchen Helpline.
More from:

The Kitchen