Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn Credits: Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn
Salt and Pepper Steak Rub <br /> Photography by Ryan Brook Credits: Salt and Pepper Steak Rub <br /> Photography by Ryan Brook
Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad <br> Photography by Joe Kim Credits: Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad <br> Photography by Joe Kim
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 Amanda 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 tortellini 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:
Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad
A bright vinaigrette makes this pasta salad the ultimate dish to serve at any summer party.
Photography by Joe Kim
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
This salad highlights many fresh flavours of the Mediterranean and is at its best when made with good-quality olive oil.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
The Best Macaroni Salad
This is a great keeper salad and perfect for a picnic or BBQ. Just make sure you pack it with plenty of ice packs to keep it nice and cold, both during transportation and at the table.
Photography by Annabelle Waugh
Chicken, Broccoli and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
Make this pasta salad for the whole family—the kids will love the mild dressing and round bocconcini cheese, while the adults will appreciate it as a light alternative to a sandwich.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
More great 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.
Pea, Pepper and Pasta Salad
This make-ahead salad is perfect for toting to a potluck barbecue or picnic. Toss the salad with the dressing right before serving so the peas stay bright green.
Summer Pasta Salad
Serve this light summery salad with crispy, homemade Parmesan Breadsticks.
Mediterranean Fusilli Salad
Fresh basil, hearty beans, piquant sun-dried tomatoes and al dente pasta make the perfect summer salad.
Warm Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad
The dressing lends a taste of summer any time of year. The red peppers provide vitamins A and C and potassium. Quick and easy to make, this salad is perfect to take to a last-minute potluck or picnic.
Grilled Sausage, Pepper and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
This delicious pasta salad is made with tasty Italian sausage and lots of colourful peppers.
Bow-Tie Pasta Salad
This easy, colourful salad has the sunny fresh tastes of Greece.
Tuna Pasta Salad
Using tuna packed in both oil and broth means you'll need less oil in the dressing.
Salmon Pasta Salad
Start with melon wedges to whet your appetite for this quick and light dinner.
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Grilled market-fresh veggies meet marinated olives and artichokes in this healthy dish made with whole wheat rotini. So chock full with taste and texture, carnivores won't complain about this vegetarian dish.
Party Parmesan Pasta Salad
Try this hearty salad studded with salami, olives, tiny tomatoes, roasted pepper and fresh basil.
Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
This easy tasty pasta salad is loaded with calcium. Omit the banana peppers if your child is not a fan of hot food.
Deli Pasta Salad
Add 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) extra pasta to the pot at dinner the night before to have enough for this lunchtime salad the next day.
Sirloin Steak with Green Bean Pasta Salad
Sirloin steaks paired with green beans and tomatoes make this salad a hearty entrée.
Looking for more great recipes? Try our best potato salad recipes.
We know that cleaning out your beauty kit can feel like a chore, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming thanks to our quick and dirty guide to de-cluttering.
When to toss old product
You have to let go of the old to make room for the new—and there are new products being released every day. Remember that beauty products do expire, especially the liquid ones like foundation, mascara, and skin-care. There should be a guideline on the packaging (it will look like a cream jar with a number on it—that number is the amount of months after opening that the product is good for), but if you can’t find it or don’t remember when you opened it, here are a couple of things to look out for.
Look for changes in consistency. Lumpy formulas or a separation of oil and pigment are red flags. If the smell resembles something rotting or the colour has darkened or oxidized in the bottle, it’s time to throw the product out.
If there’s a bad odour when you open the lid or the product is crumbling and breaking apart, you probably shouldn’t use it. Also, if you constantly have to scrape off a top layer of grime, throw it out.
If you detect a bad odour or if your lipstick is drying out or applying patchy, toss it. If your lip gloss is goopy and coming out in lumps, you don’t want to put that on your lips.
Quick tip: If you live in a warm climate, it's a good idea to keep your skin-care products in the fridge to preserve freshness.
There are times when you find yourself not using certain products because they’re stored in the backs of your cabinets or drawers. Out of sight is out of mind so get those products back in sight. Try pulling them out the night before and keep them on your vanity or dresser so you can remember to add the items to your rotation.
When to give away perfectly good product
If you’ve got products that are as good as new but you don’t find yourself using them, take a moment and ask yourself: Why did I buy this product? Why did I stop using it? Can I add this to my makeup routine or skin-care regimen?
Chances are if you haven’t used it yet, you probably won’t. Perhaps pass it along to a family member or a friend who might get better use out of it. Or even take a box full of your unused items to a women’s shelter. If you are going to donate, make sure your items are in clean and sanitary condition.
How to sanitize your beauty products:
For powder compacts, wipe the powder with a piece of Kleenex to remove the top layer. Then, take a new piece of Kleenex—fold it or cut it down to the right size—and place over the powder to avoid bacteria from getting into the fresh layer. If you threw out the box, seal with tape; no one but the new owner should be opening it. This works for face powders, blushes and eyeshadows.
For lipstick, lipgloss and other stick products, wipe them down with a piece of Kleenex sprayed with the cosmetic disinfectant. Once again, seal boxes or the products themselves with tape.
Always use a mini spatula for products that are in jars so you’re not dipping your fingers in there. Also, don’t throw away the plastic divider that covers the cream. When you want to give it away, all you have to do is seal the outside with tape.
Cosmetic sanitizers can be found at most beauty stores and makeup artistry stores. Always keep a sanitizer and a brush cleaner on hand.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.