How to Make Pasta Salad the Easy Way
Pasta salad is one of the simplest salad recipes ever, because there are so many variations and it is hard to get such a recipe wrong. If you are familiar with hot pasta or noodle recipes, you will be pleased to know that learning how to make pasta salad is just as simple as working with the hot ingredients.
There are three components to a pasta salad and those are the pasta, the dressing, and the additions. You can use any kind of pasta for pasta salads, including elbow macaroni, penne, rigatoni, or any other popular pasta shape. Long strands like linguine or spaghetti are not usually used because these would have to be cut into bite-sized pieces.
What to Add to the Cooked Pasta
Dressings for pasta salads vary but you can use pretty much anything you want, including oil and vinegar-based vinaigrettes, creamy mayonnaise dressings, Caesar salad dressing, tomato and bacon dressings or even something like pesto which you would usually use on hot pasta.
Additions to Your Pasta Salad
The additions could be any kind of cooked meat, seafood, or poultry. You can also add cooked or raw veggies. Be creative with the flavorings. If you are using a mayonnaise-based dressing you might like to stir some cayenne pepper or curry powder into the pasta salad to give it some spice or you could add an Italian flair by combining pesto with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and shredded mozzarella.
Cook pasta until it is al dente, then drain it well and put it back in the pot. Let it cool completely before stirring in your chosen additions and salad dressing. You can make a great pasta salad recipe with as few as three or four different ingredients and you can serve pasta salad recipes at room temperature or chilled.
Different Pasta Shapes
You can use your favorite pasta shapes to make a pasta salad recipe. Perhaps you are fond of penne (tubes) or fusilli (twists), or maybe you prefer macaroni, which is many people’s first choice. Pasta salad recipes are usually made with medium-sized pasta because it is easier to eat. Very long pasta shapes such as spaghetti or fettuccine would not work as well because you cannot eat those as easily as smaller pasta shapes. If you are using a very thick dressing, you might want to use tiny pasta shapes, since the dressing will hold them together well. For a less sticky, runnier dressing, choose medium-sized pasta shapes.
You might want to try whole wheat pasta instead of refined white pasta, for a different flavor. Whole wheat pasta has an earthier, nuttier flavor, and a slightly firmer texture. It comes in all your favorite pasta shapes and can be used for a more healthy pasta salad recipe. Add cooked vegetables, chicken, olives, a dressing, and anything else you like, to make a flavorful and satisfying salad.
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