Mix-and-Match Pasta Salad
Design your perfect picnic dish. This recipe leads to thousands of combinations!
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.
- Chicken, cooked and chopped
- Steak, cooked and chopped
- Ham or salami, cubed
- Roast beef, chopped
- Canned tuna, drained and flaked
- Lump crabmeat, picked over
- Shrimp, cooked and chopped
- Eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
- Baked tofu, chopped
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.)
- Broccoli florets, blanched
- Corn kernels, blanched
- Carrots, shredded
- Cherry 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
4. Pick a Mix-In
Add 1/3 cup of any of these ingredients.
- 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
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.