How To Make A Great Pasta Salad | sheerluxe.com
Just like a bog-standard coleslaw, Greek, or potato salad can zhoosh up a picnic or BBQ, so can a decent pasta salad done well. Portable and easy to prepare in advance, this dish can incorporate fish, cheese or vegetables – you name it, practically anything goes. Here, five chefs share their tips and favourite flavour combinations.
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Pasta Salad Tips: Cesar Fernandez, Home Economist at Miele

Summertime calls for fresh and cooler dishes and if you want to make a good pasta salad, follow these tips:

Use dried pasta. As much as we all love fresh pasta, a salad is not where it should be used. Make sure to choose a short shaped one like penne, orecchiette, rigatoni or fusilli.

Be careful with the cooking time. Pasta tends to harden when it goes cold, so you will need to cook it for a minute longer that you would do normally. Most importantly, do not overcook it as it will turn into a soft, squidgy mess. 

Avoid rinsing the pasta under cold water. When it’s ready, transfer the pasta into an oiled baking tray and allow it to cool naturally, and as quick as possible, without removing any of the starch. 

Sometimes, less is more. When choosing the rest of the ingredients, try to cut everything into an even size similar to the pasta. With vegetables, you’ll want them to be fully cooked before adding them to the salad (broccoli, peas, asparagus and courgettes work well). If you’re using tomatoes, make sure they don’t have too much water, as they will spoil the final results. If you can, use sun-dried or confit tomatoes. 

Add the leaves last. If you want to add salad leaves, such as spinach or rocket, do it just before serving otherwise they’ll wilt and look sad when you take the lid off the container to serve. 

If you’re adding protein, opt for good-quality albacore tuna, eggs, grilled chicken or, if you want to keep it vegetarian, edamame or cooked beans will work well too. 

A simple olive oil-based dressing is best for a pasta salad and go easy with any vinegar or lemon juice as pasta absorbs acid easily. For extra flavour, lemon zest, pesto, fresh herbs or anchovies will be your best friend. If possible, try to keep the dressing separate and just add it at the very last minute.
 
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Roasted Aubergine & Sundried Tomato Pesto Orzo Salad With Roasted Peppers & Olives: Sophie Richardson, Pique Food 

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g of orzo
  • 1 jar or pack of sundried tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 1 aubergine, quartered lengthways and scored 
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 50g of parmesan cheese (or veggie alternative) 
  • Good glug of olive oil
  • 2 red peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 jar of pitted olives
  • Rocket
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper 

METHOD 

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. 
  2. Roast the peppers on baking tray with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  3. On a separate baking sheet, roast the aubergines with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for around 20 minutes or until soft.
  4. Bring a pan of water to the boil and salt generously. When boiling, cook the orzo according to the packed instructions, drain and allow to cool – add some olive to prevent it sticking together.
  5. Once the aubergine is soft, you can make the pesto. In a jug with a stick blender, or Magimix, place the sun-dried tomatoes (and their oil), parmesan, garlic, chopped roasted aubergine, basil and garlic. Taste and season accordingly.
  6. Place the orzo and pesto in a bowl and mix well, add the peppers, olives and some rocket or fresh basil. 

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Sun-Dried Tomato, White Bean & Feta Cheese Pasta Salad With Homemade Basil Vinaigrette: Ligia Lugo, The Daring Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound of short cut pasta
  • ½ jar of oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2-3 oz of feta cheese (or ricotta), crumbled
  • ½ can of white beans, drained
  • ½ avocado, sliced 

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • ½ clove of garlic, smashed
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup of fresh basil
  • 1 bunch of fresh chives
  • ¼  tsp of crushed red pepper flakes, adjust according to your taste
  • salt

METHOD
1. For the vinaigrette, combine the basil, chives, dill, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Adjust the salt and pepper flakes as needed.
2. In a large pot bring salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the instructions. You can use fusilli or your favourite kind. Al dente works best so you can cook it 1-2 minutes less than what instructions say. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, add the asparagus. Drain the pasta and asparagus and add the mix to a serving bowl.
3. Toss the hot pasta and asparagus with the crumbled feta cheese and a couple spoonfuls of the basil vinaigrette, toss until they mix well. Add the tomatoes and white beans and toss to combine. Top the pasta with the sliced avocado. You can serve this warm or cold with the remaining vinaigrette on the side.

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Smokey Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Sausage Pasta Salad: Manju Malhi, Cranble

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Gosh! Smokey Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Sausages, cut at a diagonal
  • 2 tbsp of vegetarian red pesto
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 180g of dried pasta such as fusilli or penne, cooked according to instructions
  • 125g of mozzarella, cut in slices 
  • A handful of washed rocket leaves
  • ¼ tsp of freshly ground black pepper 

METHOD

  1. Toss the vegetarian red pesto, olive oil and tomatoes together. Mix in the Smokey Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Sausages and the pasta. Combine well. 
  2. Fold in the (optional) mozzarella. Sprinkle over the rocket leaves and the black pepper and serve immediately
  3. The salad can be kept in the refrigerator covered for 2-3 days. 

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Black Bean Pasta & Roast Veggie Salad: Carole Poirot, AO Life

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g of black bean pasta
  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 small red peppers
  • 200g of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C. Wash and chop the courgette, peppers and tomatoes into small chunks.
  2. Place the vegetables onto a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season. Roast for 30 minutes turning the vegetables occasionally.
  3. Cook the pasta for one minute less than it says on the packaging – this will ensure it keeps its shape/doesn’t fall apart before serving.
  4. Once cooked, drain the hot water and rinse with cold water. Clean and slice the spring onions.
  5. Once the vegetables have cooled down, toss them together with the pasta. Top with the sliced spring onions and chopped parsley.
  6. Allow to cool. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper.

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Wholegrain Penne Salad With Tuna & Avocado: Barilla 

INGREDIENTS

  • 160g of wholegrain penne 
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Italian tomatoes
  • 100g of canned tuna
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch of chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp of chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Oregano
  • Extra virgin olive oil 

METHOD

  1. Zest the lemon. Cut the tomatoes into 1cm cubes. Drain the tuna oil.
  2. Peel the avocado and cut into 1.5cm pieces. Season with the juice of a lemon.
  3. Cook the pasta in an abundant amount of salted water, following the package’s timing instructions so the pasta is al dente. Cool in running water.
  4. Add all ingredients, season with salt, ground black pepper, lemon zest, oregano and extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

Penne Rigate Salad With Pesto Genovese

INGREDIENTS

  • 160g of penne rigate
  • ½ jar of pesto genovese
  • 100g of cherry tomatoes, washed, quartered
  • 80g of yellow pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stick, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

METHOD

  1. Boil the penne rigate in salted boiling water. Once cooked, strain carefully. Cool in running water.
  2. Put the pasta on a tray with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Cut the yellow pepper into thin slices, peel and cut the carrot and thinly slice the celery.
  4. Thinly slice the spring onion.
  5. Sauté the pepper, carrot, celery and spring onion with a little oil.
  6. Put the penne in a bowl and add all the veggies.
  7. Toss with the pesto and serve at room.

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