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.
Photography by Ariane Laezza
Want to fall in love with cooking? Food and entertaining guru Camille Moore shares her devotion for doing things the long way.
As a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and the culinary expert on CTV's The Social, Camille Moore is passionate about cooking from scratch and helping others find their groove in the kitchen. Like that of Julia Child, her idol while growing up, Moore's enthusiasm is infectious. Her bubbly personality, combined with mad food-prep skills and easygoing recipes, energizes TV viewers to head straight for the fridge, grab whatever's on hand and start creating!
The youngest of four children, Moore fondly remembers spending much of her youth in the kitchen—her childhood playground—cooking for fun. In her early 20s, she began modelling, travelling to Europe and the U.S. for runway shows and photo shoots. But she continued to immerse herself in cooking, and word of her talent spread among friends. That's how, when pondering her next career move, she was asked to cater a party for 60 people as a one-off. Moore immediately said yes, and the event became a turning point—she realized she could take her love of food and cooking for others seriously and make a go of it.
Five years ago, Moore received her Le Cordon Bleu diploma and returned home to Toronto, where she did catering, dabbled in recipe development and even cooked for celebrity chefs' private functions. Since 2013, she has been passing on her culinary skills and inspiring viewers on The Social.
Both in everyday life and when it comes to her cooking philosophy, Moore likes to take a chance, seize the moment and create it herself. Here, she dishes on simple ways to get comfy in the kitchen.
Canadian Living: How do you avoid becoming overwhelmed when cooking for a special occasion?
Camille Moore: Keep it real! You want to enjoy the evening as much as your guests, and entertaining doesn't mean extravagant or difficult; good food can be simply prepared. Focus on doing one thing well. Take tacos—they're unpretentious yet delicious, and everyone loves them. The key is to go the extra mile and source good-quality, authentic ingredients (check out Moore's recipe for Chili Chicken Tacos With Mango Slaw). And remember, a great night isn't just about the food—it's the whole experience that counts. Even if it's a casual evening, don't be afraid to use the good dishes or some special treasure that's usually tucked away. I like to mix old with new. I use an antique crystal carafe with a silver stopper as a water jug. Half the pleasure of eating comes from the beauty of how it's served; it shows your guests they're worth the effort.
CL: You spend your days creating recipes. Do you always follow them?
CM: I like to think of cooking as a conversation. Don't be afraid to change the recipe if you feel inspired in the moment—or to use what you have in the fridge! The best part of cooking is experimenting; it's how you learn. Once you get comfortable with a dish, swap out a few ingredients. Start with small changes: Try spices or fresh ingredients that are similar in taste and texture to whatever you're replacing. And if it doesn't work, that's OK. There's nothing like a good kitchen flop to make you figure out what you'd do differently the next time.
CL: What's your best advice for choosing kitchen equipment?
CM: Take your time and invest in the right tools. Whether it's pots and pans or knives, buy individual items instead of full sets—test-drive what works for you. Like fashion, choose good-quality pieces that will last a long time. You might find you like a variety of brands for different tasks. I recommend starting with three sizes of knives: a chef 's knife for daily chores such as chopping, slicing and dicing; a paring knife for precision tasks and preparing small veggies and fruit; and a bread knife. A serrated blade is essential for breads, but it's also great for cutting tomatoes, oranges and grapefruit. As for pots and pans, begin with one large saucepan with a lid and heavy bottom. And head straight to cast-iron for frying. It's relatively inexpensive and will never let you down! I love how it can go straight from the stovetop to the oven. And because it's so thick and heavy, the pan really holds the heat and puts the best crust on meat or fish when you're searing.
©iStockphoto.com/annedala Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/annedala
Drop that takeout menu, and walk away from the fast food. These tips will make you an ace at Monday-to-Friday dinner prep.
Set for success
Shop once, eat all week
If it's Sunday and you haven't thought ahead to what you'll have for dinner on Thursday, you're missing out on the world's simplest time-saving tool: meal planning! Write out a list of what you'll need to prep your family's meals for the entire week, and get it all in a single supermarket trip before your busy weekday cycle begins. There's no need to worry about wilted veggies when you have a Bosch refrigerator that is equipped with the special VitaFresh system. It maintains just the right level of humidity and helps keep produce fresh longer.
Call in the troops!
You don't have to handle meal prep alone: enlist your family's help. Even young kids can gather ingredients from the fridge, and Bosch's large-capacity drawers and shelves mean it's highly unlikely the broccoli will have been flattened by a jar of pickles. (Everything in its place!) Plus, the efficient LED lighting system keeps items in clear view without hogging a lot of electricity. Once your ingredients are on the counter, kids can shift to sous-chef mode. Safe tasks for little ones include tearing lettuce, crumbling cheese and whisking dressing. Older kids can peel veggies and stir sauces or brown meat on the stove.
Love your leftovers
Plan to make a double batch of your favourite casserole, soup or stew, allowing you to easily transform leftovers into lunches or use them as a base for tomorrow's dinner. Consider cooking more than one recipe at a time: Bosch stoves have five burners and three oven racks, so you'll have space for it all. Don't your weeknights feel less stressed already?
Label and date all freezer foods so you can know at a glance what you have on hand at all times. This minimizes waste, as you're less likely to buy items you already have, and makes it easier to put dinner on the table efficiently by using up leftovers.
Thaw frozen dishes in the fridge, as opposed to on your kitchen countertop, to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. To avoid freezer burn and keep food at its best, use airtight storage containers or large bags that are designed for the freezer.
To maximize storage space in your freezer, package items like soups and sauces in resealable freezer bags so you can flatten and stack them on top of one another.
Freezer staples—like peas, edamame, corn, bread, ravioli and puff pastry—make weeknight cooking easier. Have these on hand at all times and make a note when one of those items is running low so you never run out.
For more on how Bosch appliances can make prep, cooking and cleanup easier, visit bosch-home.ca.