Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad
Photography by Joe Kim Image by: 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.
Illustration by Jeannie Phan
With more than 400 years of history and a bustling contemporary cultural scene, Quebec City offers a trove of things to uncover—for repeat visitors newcomers alike.
History lesson: Auberge Saint-Antoine boasts gorgeously modern rooms in a historic wharf and cannon battery. Each room features a display of an artifact found on the site, such as 18th-century china plates or a charming pair of centuries-old dominoes. Some rooms include a private terrace, where you can take in the city sights (or a glass of wine) after a day of trekking through town.
Off the beaten path: Spend a night in a former nun's cell at Le Monastère des Augustines. This freshly restored site features wellness packages (think massages, yoga classes and meditation) and pared-back-but-comfy suites in a 377-year-old building.
Classic eats: Stop in at Le Chic Shack for an updated take on Quebec's most-beloved regional dish: poutine. With toppings such as smoked meat, mushrooms and even masala-curry sauce, this isn't your average potatoes and gravy.
Cocktails and bites: The Grande Allée is home to some of Quebec City's most luxurious estates—and L'Atelier, a swish restaurant that's a veritable hot spot come sundown. Don't miss the twist on surf and turf, lobster and beef tartare served with a side of deliciously crispy frites.
Local hero: Nordic ingredients drive the menu at Chez Boulay bistro boréal, where chefs Arnaud Marchand and Jean-Luc Boulay excel at inventive takes on culinary traditions that showcase regional flavours. A beet tarte tatin, for example, is drizzled with citrusy, semisweet birch syrup, whereas a velvety sea buckthorn meringue tart is a clever take on classic lemon meringue pie.
State of the art: The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec sits adjacent to the historic Plains of Abraham, but its new Pierre Lassonde Pavilion has a distinctly modern edge. Take in works by Québécois artists such as Riopelle and David Altmejd, and don't miss the impressive Inuit art collection.
Shop talk: Venture beyond the city's fortified walls to explore the charming St-Roch district, which is dotted with art galleries, boutiques and coffee shops (a latte at Saint-Henri micro-roaster is a must).
Old school: The Petit-Champlain neighbourhood is one of the oldest commercial districts in North America, so shops abound, but don't miss Musée de la civilisation for an afternoon immersion course in the Québécois and First Nations cultures.
Put your slow cooker to work and save time with these 20 easy and satisfying recipes.
Serve this saucy pulled pork as sandwiches: piled high on buns, with bowls of garnishes, such as pickled jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese and thinly shredded red cabbage (or better yet, red cabbage slaw), and let guests build their own sandwiches.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you're feeding a smaller group. Serve over hot steamed basmati rice.
This roast, inspired by a classic Belgian stew, is juicy and tender over mashed potatoes, and the leftovers make the ultimate hot sandwich. Cook the bacon and onion mixture the night before so it's ready to add to the slow cooker in the morning without a lot of fuss.
This beanless regional specialty is a point of pride in Cincinnati, where fierce loyalty divides the city over which restaurant serves the best version. Cooked low and slow, with the distinguishing flavours of cinnamon and cocoa, the meaty, saucy chili is served over spaghetti.
This mild, sweet curry has all the comforting flavours of a curry without too much spice, making it a great choice for the entire family. Serve over steamed rice or with warmed naan bread.
You won't believe how tasty and easy it is to make this classic dish in your slow cooker. A piping bag - or plastic bag - makes easy work of stuffing the manicotti. Serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread for an easy family-style dinner.
A brisket needs to be cooked slowly, so using a slow cooker makes perfect sense. Ensure tender slices by cutting the brisket thinly across the grain.
Inspired by Portuguese caldo verde, this hearty, richly flavoured soup is a yummy way to use up an entire bunch of kale in one go. It freezes well, so leftovers make quick and easy lunches all week. The soup thickens as it stands; thin with water and adjust the seasonings as desired when you reheat it.
My mother, Shu-Lai Fong, makes famous pressure-cooked black bean spareribs. They're the inspiration for this recipe, which is just as delicious but uses a slow cooker. You'll find bite-size bone-in pork spareribs at most Asian grocery stores, or you can order them at your butcher's counter.
This hearty sauce is best served over a short pasta with lots of nooks and crannies it can tuck into and cling to. This ragu also makes a delicious lasagna filling when layered with sheets of fresh pasta and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Cost: $2.15/cup
There are few things more comforting than a bowl of rich, creamy seafood chowder. Sweet, licorice-like fennel naturally complements the seafood. Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread and a simple green salad for a complete meal.
Chorizo sausage and flavourful spices make this chili a real treat to come home to. Stirring in chopped herbs at the end adds a welcome touch of freshness.
Slow-cooked then quickly finished on the grill, sweet and sticky glazed ribs are guaranteed to impress your guests. Pork side ribs are also called St. Louis–style ribs, but back ribs are equally delicious.
Finally a flavourful risotto that doesn't need any stirring! Dried mushrooms work perfectly to create an earthy aroma, we've used dried porcinis here as they're readily available, but any dried mushroom will do. Hearty pot barley makes adds a healthful twist and doesn't become overly mushy - even after 8 hours.
Sweet honey and tender shallots mellow the typically strong flavour of lamb shoulder. Serve with roasted potatoes and steamed greens for a complete meal.
We've swapped beef broth for chicken broth and onions for tender leeks but kept all the flavour in this lighter version of classic French onion soup. When you get home, just toast the baguette, broil the cheese and enjoy!
This veggie-loaded chili is so hearty that even meat lovers will ask for seconds. To freeze it, cook as directed, but don't add the mushrooms. Cook them separately and add to the chili after reheating it. Serve with crusty bread to soak up every bit of sauce.
Inspired by the traditional Mexican tacos served with spicy thin pork slices and pineapple, this slow cooker version features pork shoulder broken into tender bite size chunks. If you don't want to serve these as tacos, try serving the pork on top of steamed white rice instead.
This all-in-one meal is a roast version of classic beef and barley soup. The barley thickens the cooking liquid to make a delicious gravy.
Using stewing beef instead of ground meat adds delicious bulk to this otherwise classic chili. Serve as is or use it as a topping for baked potatoes.
Superpower: Raising awareness about mental health
A couple of years ago, 16-year-old Patrick Hickey had what he calls an "epiphany." He decided he needed to do something to help the people he loved and valued in his life who were quietly struggling with mental health issues. "There was no watershed moment," says Patrick, "just a realization that, although I hadn't talked down to these people or made their condition any worse, I'd never done anything to make it any better or easier." So, in November 2014, after a few months of planning, the teen organized a Mental Wellness Day for 600 students at Holy Heart High School in St. John's, N.L. The event, which included two dozen workshops, guest speakers and information booths, prompted an outpouring of appreciation. "One student who had been suffering from depression and had just listened to a guest speaker talk about it hugged me," says Patrick. "I remember him saying, ‘This is happening—it's really happening.' It was such an emotional day."
In April 2015, Patrick went further, cochairing Mental Health Matters: A Whisper to a Scream, a two-day provincial mental-wellness conference involving more than 30 high schools from Newfoundland and Labrador. "Over a weekend, willing and eager youth became accepting, supportive networks for each other," says Patrick. "It was overwhelming."
Now a student at Western University in London, Ont., Patrick is working on creating similar mental health initiatives, including a mental health conference in Kangiqsujuaq, Nunavik, planned for 2016. "We need to keep the conversation going," he says. "Although a lot has been achieved, there's still so much to do for mental health—in my city, in my province and in the country."
Superpower: Helping people with Parkinson's disease through dance
Sarah Robichaud has always understood the joy of movement; it's been part of her life for 25 years as a dancer and 14 years as a personal trainer. But it wasn't until 2007 that she discovered dance can also be transformative. At that time, Sarah had begun working with a new client who had Parkinson's disease, a progressive nervous-system disorder that may include symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement and difficulty maintaining good posture. While researching ways to ease her client's symptoms, Sarah learned about Dance for PD, the internationally acclaimed dance classes in New York City for people with Parkinson's disease. Soon, she added dance to her client's more functional resistance training and stretching sessions. "He enjoyed the workouts more when he was dancing," she recalls. "His balance was better and his gait was better."
In 2008, Sarah started the charity Dancing With Parkinson's, which offers dance classes to help people with the disease develop core strength and balance, and increase their range of motion, all through simple movements and improvisation. "With Parkinson's, people lose their ability to initiate movements needed for basic daily tasks," says Sarah. "In class, it's about finding ways to activate those neural pathways with live music, imagery, choreography, camaraderie and motivation. All of these things, intertwined, help people move."
Dancing With Parkinson's classes are taught by Sarah and 12 teachers trained by her organization. Offered daily at seven Ontario locations, with five in Toronto and two in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, the classes have become so popular (additional classes were added due to long waiting lists) that, over the next five years, Sarah hopes to expand the program across Canada. "I never thought I would be so lucky to find such meaningful work," she says. "When someone tells you after a class, ‘I haven't seen my husband stand up and move for the past five years,' it's profound."
Superpower: Providing education and raising funds for HIV relief
Even while managing her own health crisis, Moréniké Oláòsebìkan was thinking about others. More than a decade ago, while she was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis in her native Nigeria, Moréniké noticed how patients living with HIV were stigmatized. "I was moved by their challenges, so in 2003, when I arrived in Canada to study, I knew I wanted to do something to support that community," says Moréniké, who now has her own fashion label and is a pharmacist and associate owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart in Edmonton. What she didn't have in funds, she had in drive and talent. "I could paint, design clothing and sew, so I took an idea to the African-Caribbean society where I was studying at the University of Alberta," she says. "We would invite all of our friends and everyone on campus, charge a little money and organize a fashion, arts and music exhibition." The result was the Ribbon Rouge gala, a night of fashion, food, music, dancing and fine art, with proceeds going to support HIV relief.
Ten years later, the Ribbon Rouge gala has raised almost $46,000 for three organizations: HIV Edmonton, The Stephen Lewis Foundation and UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. "The theme of the gala is conveyed through art, poetry, music and dance," says Moréniké, "and the speeches are directed toward social action and breaking down the barriers to care." She hopes to grow Ribbon Rouge into a charity that, through the arts, advocates and educates locally and globally to raise awareness and funds for a cure. The challenge, she explains, is that HIV is no longer a media headline, so many people don't think it's relevant anymore. Yet, according to Alberta Health's annual report, there were 255 newly diagnosed cases of HIV in that province in 2013—an increase for the third year running. "The ultimate goal is that we get to zero," says Moréniké. "It would be awesome to be able to say that there are no AIDS-related deaths in Edmonton anymore."
Superpower: Renovating buildings to help charities work more efficiently
It all started very simply, says Paul Latour. A friend with multiple sclerosis needed help fixing up her backyard so she could access and enjoy the overgrown garden she'd once loved so much. "I thought I could get 20 friends together, have a pizza party and help her out," says Paul. Seven weeks later, about 70 volunteers and 27 businesses had contributed time and supplies to perform a one-day reno that would have cost his friend $25,000. "Not a single person I approached said no; not a single company I asked for supplies said no," Paul recalls. It was then that the Victoria-based artist, writer and waiter realized he could tackle projects on a larger scale .
He soon founded HeroWork, first as a private business and then as a nonprofit, and finally as a charity that renovates buildings for other charities in need. HeroWork's first project was a widely lauded reno valued at $100,000 for the Casa Maria Emergency Housing Society, which provides shelter for families in crisis. Now, the organization has completed its fifth renovation in the Victoria area, and plans for three more are underway. To be selected for a renovation, a charity has to own its building and contribute 20 percent of the value of the renovation, which is largely used to purchase the supplies needed for renos that include everything from electrical and plumbing overhauls to roofing repairs to structural work to landscaping. By 2017, Paul plans to roll out HeroWork's community construction model to other towns on Vancouver Island, and in 10 years, across the country. "It's a franchise for social good."
Superpower: Mentoring aboriginal students
Many kids dream of being doctors or pharmacists or researchers. But by the time they're in Grade 12 and applying for postsecondary education, poor grades or their choice of courses throughout high school may make it impossible to get accepted into a health-sciences program. And although The University of British Columbia's outreach department encouraged Grade 12 aboriginal youth across the province to consider careers in medicine and health sciences, they were sometimes reaching students too late. That's why Sandra Jarvis-Selinger, associate dean academic in the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences at UBC, and her team created Aboriginal eMentoring BC.
Since 2010, the program has reached out to aboriginal youth as early as elementary school. Students work through a fun, interactive online curriculum called Personal Quest and communicate with mentors on an online discussion board, with the goal of helping participants explore possible career paths. To date, 189 youth and 119 mentors (34 percent of whom are aboriginal) have been enrolled in the program. Based on this initiative's success, in 2016, the program will be expanded to include aboriginal and nonaboriginal youth in rural and remote areas of B.C. Sandra says this model could easily be applied to other areas such as engineering, education and humanities, and that it's robust enough to help youth on any postsecondary career path. For her, the most important takeaway is that aboriginal youth understand that, when they graduate from high school, they have choices and feel empowered to make those choices. The positive impact on these young people is already evident. "E-mentoring changed my life," says Rae-Anne LeBrun, 19, now enrolled in the child and youth care counselling program at Douglas College in Coquitlam, B.C. "I was actually homeless when I was in the program. I got to learn who I was as a person, and also to talk about how I felt with people who accepted me and didn't judge me. They wanted to help me along my journey."
Tamar Huggins Grant
Superpower: Increasing educational and economic opportunities for youth in underserved communities
Tamar Huggins Grant noticed that few people of colour were applying to her Driven Startup Program, the nonprofit social enterprise she'd founded in 2012 that aims to help under-represented entrepreneurs take their business to market through advancing training, mentorship and access to capital. It was then she realized she could create a greater impact by reaching out to tech providers of the future. "I wanted to teach youth that they are more than just consumers," says Tamar. "They can create the technology they consume every day." So, last year, she launched Tech Spark (techspark.ca), a program that's free for participants, thanks to funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation's Youth Opportunities Fund and support from Access Alliance, a multicultural community-services organization. Tech Spark teaches coding and other digital literacy skills such as web development, UX design, digital drawing and mobile gaming to youth aged 15 to 29; it's designed to help develop a new generation of innovators and creators. Through Tech Spark, Tamar focuses her efforts on inner-city communities like Toronto's Weston–Mount Dennis—identified as one of the poorest and most at-risk neighbourhoods in the city—where there are barriers, both economic and social, to learning. In addition to training (the 12-week program runs four to six times a year), Tech Spark provides transit tokens and hot meals, and youth mentors are available to help students with personal issues that may affect their studies. Even more crucial, each Tech Spark session ends with student-internship opportunities at established technology companies like Pixel Dreams, a digital design studio in Toronto. This year, Tamar plans to launch Tech Spark Digital, her own digital agency, where program interns will be hired to do design and development work for local businesses.
"We try our best to provide the students with what they need to be successful," says Tamar, who hopes to expand Tech Spark to other inner-city neighbourhoods in Toronto. "They leave with skills that employers are looking for." For Tamar, the ultimate reward is opening doors for not only Tech Spark students but also those students' siblings and their future children. "Our reach goes beyond the individuals who are part of our program. It means so much to be part of that."
For more on Canadians who are making a difference, check out Tysen Lefebvre's story.
This story was originally part of "Canadian Super Heroes" in the March 2016 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!