It doesn’t get much easier than pasta salad. Throw together cold pasta, salad dressing and veggies. Heck, it could even be a bunch of leftover ingredients and ta da! Pasta salad! I’m sharing this recipe so you can learn how to take pasta salad to the next level. A couple of simple additions to the standard pasta salad and you’ve got a dish to impress your friends and family at the next cookout.
Simple Pasta Salad
- 1 pound box of pasta (select pasta that has some nooks for the dressing to seep into)
- Your favorite salad dressing
- Assortment of vegetables chopped into bite-sized pieces
- Fresh herbs, torn or chopped into pieces (basil, dill, cilantro, etc.)
- Chives, minced
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Ground pepper
The day before you plan on serving the salad, cook the pasta according to directions on the box then rinse under cold water. Place pasta into a large bowl and pour a generous amount of salad dressing over the pasta. Stir to coat the pasta evenly with the salad dressing. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. The next day chop up your vegetables and stir into the pasta. Add herbs, chives and lemon juice and mix it up.
Here’s an important step… take a small bowl and spoon out some pasta salad. Taste it. Does it need more dressing? Add some. Season with ground pepper as you see fit. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
I think the magic comes from the fresh herbs, chives and lemon juice. That adds a brightness to an otherwise boring dish. I use whatever vegetables I have on hand that are fresh. For the salad in the photos I paired up a roasted red pepper dressing with red peppers, cherry tomatoes, radishes, sugar snap peas, green beans and celery.
My happy food memory for pasta salad involves the head of campus security at my university. I spent one sweltering Texas summer as the receptionist for that department and my boss had me come over to babysit for his toddler several times. Every time they left behind some pasta salad and some grilled chicken for my dinner. I can’t eat pasta salad without remembering that summer. That summer changed my life… it was crazy and fun and did I mention hot? It’s also when I started dating my husband. Nothing was the same ever again.