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Photography by Joe Kim/TC Media Credits: Photography by Joe Kim/TC Media
Nothing beats pasta salad in summer. It's the perfect portable picnic dish, everyone loves it and it cooks quickly, keeping the heat out of the kitchen when you really need it.
But nothing is worse than a dry, mushy or bland salad. Follow these 6 simple steps for perfect pasta salad every time. You'll be the star of the summer!
1. Pick your shape. Fresh, summer pasta salads are the best place to showcase fun, quirky pasta shapes like wagon wheels, bow ties, scoobi doo (cavatappi) or small shells. The ideal pasta is short, small and has lots of nooks and crannies to hold the dressing and the additional ingredients, like meat, cheese or veggies.
2. Cook your pasta properly. Too hard and the salad is chewy and gets stuck in your teeth, too soft and the pasta turns to mush as it sits.
3. Drain, rinse and drain again. Best pasta practices say to never rinse your pasta. However, in the case of pasta salad rinsing is essential – use cold water. This stops the cooking process by cooling it quickly and getting rid of residual heat. Drain well after rinsing.
4. Texture, texture, texture. The additional ingredients are what really make pasta salads shine.
Choose 3 or 4 ingredients to add-in. These could be blanched or raw veggies, cubed or shredded cheese, diced or sliced meats, pickled veggies (you name it and it likely goes well in pasta salad). Choose contrasting textures to get a blend of chewy, crunchy, crispy and soft in each bite. For easiest eatability try to cut all ingredients in the salad into about the same size, and one that's easy to pick up with a fork and fit into your mouth. Your guests will thank you!
5. Let it mellow. Once dressed, let your salad sit for at least one hour (or refrigerate for up to 24 hours) before tucking in. This gives the dressing a chance to soak into the pasta and for all the flavours to really combine. If it's sitting for 24 hours, you might want to toss it with a bit of fresh dressing just before serving. Either save some dressing for this purpose, or stir in a splash of oil and vinegar or a dollop of mayonnaise to refresh it.
6. Add fresh herbs. Add a handful of chopped fresh herbs just before serving to bring a taste of summer and a splash for fresh colour to your salad. Choose soft herbs, like chives, parsley, basil, mint or cilantro.
Serve up this delicious Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad at your next potluck gathering.
Cozy Apple Pie Oatmeal Credits: Jodi Pudge Source: Canadian Living Magazine: September 2016
We show you how easy it is to get breakfast on the table when you start with our overnight steel-cut oatmeal. The best part? We have both sweet and savoury topping options so you can satisfy any morning craving.
Poaching an egg isn't as difficult as you may think. The trick is to keep the water at a gentle simmer and give it a good stir before you add the egg. Look for small ham steaks alongside bacon in the supermarket, or use up leftover cooked ham.
Mourning the end of summer break? Let this sunny breakfast cheer you up. Macadamia nuts add filling protein and extra tropical flavour, but any kind of nut will do.
This hearty bowl is like comfort food, squared. To make this diner-inspired brekkie meatless, substitute a fried egg for the sausage.
This combination of flavours is a little out there, but trust us—you'll want this dish for both breakfast and dinner. The chili pepper plays superbly against the sweet coconut chips and the creamy peanut butter, giving you the ultimate sweet and savoury fix.
Consider this the warm hug of breakfast foods. We prefer Gala apples over other varieties because they hold their shape when cooked, but any type will work.
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.