Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad <br> 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.
Pull out all the stops for Santa this year, starting with a batch of cookies that are ALMOST too good to share.
For a shift from standard royal icing, we've topped these sugar cookies with marzipan, a mixture of sugar and almond paste, which is easy to roll out and adds rich flavour.
Get the recipe: Marzipan Star Cookies
Drop cookies make a fuss-free base for these delightful sandwiches, as there's no rolling out or cutting required.
Get the recipe: Minty Swirl Sandwich Cookies
A crunchy chocolate topping adds a whole new level of deliciousness to the winning combo of chocolate and peanut butter.
Get the recipe: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crunch Cookies
A creamy, sweet and nutty filling takes these cakey chocolate cookies to a whole new level.
Get the recipe: German Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Slice-and-bake cookies are great for time-pressed cooks because there's no rolling or cutting out shapes—simply form the dough into a log, chill and slice.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Almond-Slice-and-Bake Cookies
Buttery shortbread gets a warm hug from spiced gingerbread dough in this mash-up of two favourite holiday cookies.
Get the recipe: Two-Tone Gingerbread and Shortbread Cookies
Store a log of this oatmeal raisin dough in your freezer so you can enjoy freshly baked cookies at a moment's notice.
Gooey marshmallows and melted dark chocolate give these soft thumbprint cookies the irresistible flavour of the classic campfire treat.
Get the recipe: S'mores Thumbprints
Sesame seeds add the perfect amount of savouriness to these otherwise sweet cookies.
Get the recipe: Apricot Sesame Thumbprints
A buttery coconut filling takes these chocolate cookies into extraordinary territory.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Almond Coconut Thumbprints
Stuffed with a creamy cookie-crumb filling, these soft chocolate cookies are a cocoa lover's dream.
Get the recipe: Cookies and Cream Sandwich Cookies
Get creative when painting the glaze onto the trees. Windswept cedars, bending pines and evergreen boughs dotted with tiny bobbles look wintry and festive.
Get the recipe: Painted Tree Cookies
No ugly sweater party is complete without these themed cookies!
Get the recipe: Ugly Sweater Cookies
These colourful wreaths may look intricate, but all you need is a piping bag with a small star tip to give them their realistic look.
Get the recipe: Festive Wreath Cookies
White sprinkles give these stockings a fluffy-trim effect.
Get the recipe: Stocking Cookies
Every bite of these easy-to-make cookies will melt in your mouth.
Get the recipe: Classic Whipped Shortbread
Two buttery chocolate chip cookie doughs—one with an extra hit of chocolate—are baked together to make these scrumptious cookies.
Get the recipe: Two-Tone Chocolate Chip Cookies
These soft and cakey molasses cookies are rolled in coarse turbinado sugar for a pleasant crunch and an extra hit of sweetness.
Get the recipe: Big Fat Molasses Cookies
These festive drop cookies are both chewy and crisp.
Get the recipe: White Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies
Christmas colours add holiday flair to these giant cookies.
Get the recipe: Festive Canvas Cookies
We've added a subtle blend of spices to basic shortbread for extra festive flavour.
Get the recipe: Spiced Ombre Snowflake Cookies
These chewy, mildly spiced cookies are covered in a pretty crunchy coating. They may appear soft when they come out of the oven, but they will firm up as they cool.
Get the recipe: Chewy Spiced Double-Chocolate Cookies
These small surprises will make the people on your list smile—no matter their personality—and won’t break your budget.
Enamel pins, $8 each, pennypaperco.com.
Snowball maker, $4, ebay.ca.
Terra Delyssa Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Infused With Garlic, $5, terradelyssa.com.
Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick Duos, $17 each, sephora.ca.
Nadège Thé Vert Grand Cru Chocolate, $10, nadege-patisserie.com.
Happy Holidays Squish Mix gummy candies, $8, squishcandies.com.
Philosophy Hands of Hope Ornament, $14, sephora.ca.
Mini lint rollers, $12, meetflint.com.
The singer-songwriter and philanthropist comes clean on her ten-year job as a housekeeper, why she finds cleaning therapeutic, when she taught her daughter to do laundry and why she has teamed up with Tide purclean to launch its new eco-friendly detergent.
Canadian singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado grew up in the family business—the cleaning business. “I come from a housekeeping background. My mom ran a laundry and cleaning company, and from a young age, I would go along with her to help out on odd jobs,” says Furtado. For the Grammy-award winner, lending a hand with the housekeeping turned into her first decade-long job. “I was a professional housekeeper at a hotel for 10 years in Vancouver,” says Furtado.
So, when Tide approached Furtado to help launch purclean—their first bio-based detergent (65% of the ingredients are made using renewable energy sources, such as plants)—the decision was an easy one. This more eco-friendly option is also hypoallergenic, free of dyes, chlorine and phosphates, and is produced in an environmentally-friendly manufacturing site.
Along with using a more sustainable detergent, Furtado limits the amount of loads she does per week and uses energy-saving cold water. “Every little bit counts: I drive a hybrid car so I only have to fill up on gas once a month. I make my own cleaning products with vinegar and water. When I’m spring cleaning or moving, I donate everything from faucets and cabinets to furniture to Habitat for Humanity so they can reuse them instead of putting them in a landfill,” says Furtado.
Furtado taught her daughter, Nevis, who is now 13-years-old, how to do laundry when she was 10-years-old. “At the time, she was saving up to buy an iPad, so Furtado gave her a list of chores to do, including laundry, to save enough money for the big purchase. “I felt I was teaching her a really valuable skill that she’ll use into adulthood, but she already mastered it at a young age. She’s really good at folding, too,” says Furtado.
Along with raising a teenage daughter and managing a successful music career (she has sold 16 million albums), she is committed to her environmental and humanitarian philanthropic work. This year, she helped host We Day, an event that empowers kids to contribute to positive changes in their communities, as well as acknowledging many who do. She also remains very close to the organization, Free The Children—she has helped raise $1 million dollars for a new all-girls school in Narok in rural Kenya. This Christmas, Nelly will visit the girls at the school.
In March 2018, Furtado will release her seventh album, The Ride. Most of the songs were written outside the studio while doing other things, such as laundry or in a car ride in Kenya during one of her Free The Children missions.
These days, when she’s not travelling, Furtado continues to clean her own house as she finds it puts her in a meditative mood, giving her the opportunity to focus on her music. “It’s part of who I am,” says Furtado.