Learn the basic elements of a pasta salad and then mix and match to create a recipe tailored to your tastebuds:
Experiment with shapes such as orecchiette, penne, or radiator, cooked al dente.
Choose one or two complimentary types and be sure to cut them into bite-size pieces roughly the same size as the pasta shape.
Dress with a sauce, and don’t skimp. Pasta will absorb some of the sauce. A simple vinaigrette, a dressed up mayonnaise, a doctored salad dressing or a flavored oil and a squirt of lemon juice are nice.
Optional but common. Try one of these: Parmesan, aged Cheddar, crumbled feta or blue.
Try parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano or thyme.
Red, white, sweet, chives, shallots, garlic, ramps or scapes, either raw or pickled.
Optional. Pine nuts, almonds, pecans or walnuts make great additions to a pasta salad.
Capers, Olives, Pickled Vegetables
Used occasionally, these ingredients add sharpness and brininess.
Slivered ham, sliced salami, crumbled bacon or diced pancetta add heft to your pasta salad.
Now that you know the basics, start experimenting! And if you want a place to start, below are our favorite pasta salad recipes.
Cooking Channel’s Best Pasta Salad Recipes: