Easy pasta salad recipes

Prepare a pasta salad that's sure to please with this collection of 21 easy pasta salad recipes.

By Nastasha Alli, recipes by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Tips for preparing pasta salads
Grilled Sausage, Pepper and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
Photography by Jodi Pudge
Planning a picnic or family barbecue anytime soon? Give yourself one less thing to worry about and go for one of our easy pasta salad recipes. It's sure to be a hit!

Pasta salads are great to make ahead, and are absolute tops for large groups. They also take the cake for being an extremely versatile dish – with a host of added ingredients, toppings and dressings, simple pasta salads can go from humble side to star entrée in no time.

We asked Test Kitchen food specialist Amana Barnier to share some top tips for preparing pasta salads, and why they're a crowd favourite. Here's what she had to share:

Pasta salads: the perfect make-ahead dish

"Pasta salads can easily be prepped in advance and can feed a crowd with little effort," Amanda says. "It can be made in advance and cooled immediately after cooking."

One important tip to remember, she adds, is to "add dressing the day it's being served, because it will quickly absorb the dressing."

Pasta salad favourites
"I like using cheese filled tortelini for a hearty salad. Soba and rice noodles are great with asian dressings, whole grain and coloured pastas," Amanda says.

How to store pasta salads

"Keep salads well wrapped and refrigerated," she says. "Salad has the same storage life as its ingredients. Seafood is best eaten within 2 days, and chicken (within) 2 to 3 days. If traveling, be sure to store pasta salads in coolers packed with lots of ice."

"Proteins should not be within 4 C and 60 C for longer than a four hour period," she adds.

The long and short of it: best pasta shapes

"Short shapes are best with vinaigrettes and creamy dressings, and chunky ingredients such as chopped vegetables and beans," Amanda says.

"Long pasta shapes are better used with thinly sliced vegetables, proteins, herbs, spices and vinaigrettes."

Tips for making pasta salad
"If making a pasta salad in advance, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and drain well," she advises. "Add dressing just prior to serving. Pasta quickly absorbs liquids; if the dressing is added too soon, the pasta will absorb it."

So whether you prefer chunky pasta salads with a cool, creamy dressing perfect for summer picnics, or entrée-worthy pasta salads with long rice noodles and a tangy vinaigrette, you're sure to find a new favourite with from our collection.

Easy pasta salad recipes:

Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
This salad is simple to assemble for a quick family meal.





Warm Spinach and Ham Pasta Salad

Dressed with Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar, this penne pasta salad is a winner topped with goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.



Winter Vegetable Pasta Salad
Cook everything together in one pot for this easy warm salad.



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