LOOKING for: A really good cold pasta salad

eileenlaunonenApril 22, 2007

I have a recipe which I consider a 'dump' recipe an its very good I dump Jarred and drained olives,artichokes, roasted red peppers and a container of cherry tomatos with small cubed provolone over some kind of small pasta (depends on my mood) I usually dress it with a Italian style vinegarette......Id like some different ideas as my family and friends have had this for years at my bbq's although they love it...lets get a change....Id perfer NON MAYO based dressings TIA

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Funny you should mention this salad. Just last Saturday I made 2 gallons of a similar salad for our club Luau. I used rice as my base & added the artichoke hearts, hearts of Palm, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, chunks of sweet red pepper, celery, onion, snow peas (cooked until barely done) and rough dice of freshly cooked shrimp.I mix a Catalina dressing with creamy Italian and bleu cheese vinagerette dressings and marinate for 24 hours. There wasn't one cup of it left!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 10:26AM
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This is my favorite, with or without the Feta.


1 small eggplant, peeled, 3/4" dice
1 red pepper, 1" dice
1 yellow pepper, 1" dice
1 red onion, peeled, 1" dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 lb Orzo, cooked

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 scallions, minced
1/4 cup toasted Pignoli nuts
3/4 lb Feta cheese, 1/2" dice
15 basil leaves, chiffonade

Mix first 7 ingredients together and place in one layer in large roasting pan.
Roast @ 425 degrees for 40 minutes, turning once.

Mix warm orzo with warm cooked vegetables and all of their juices.
Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss together and let cool to room temperature.

Add scallions, nuts, Feta and basil and serve.

Serves 6

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 11:17AM
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My "dump salad" uses fresh stuff.
The dressing is a dijon vinaigrette
1T dijon mustard
1 large clove crushed garlic
2 T honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar...or in a pinch cider vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO
1 tsp dried oregano.

Then I cut up some sweet onion, julienne strips of pepper, red, green and perhaps yellow or orange, a zucchini quartered langthwise and chunked up, a handfull of halved cherry tomatoes, another handful or broccoli florets, briefly blanched so they are bright green, some sliced radishes, myshrooms sliced....perhaps some carrot buttons, maybe some snow peas, maybe asparagus spears cut up.
As you add the veggies to the bowl, slop on some of the dressing. Add as much cooked pasta as you like. Depending on the meal It will be a veggie salad with pasta or a pasta salad with veggies.
Then lastly I add some shredded Swiss or Fontina cheese and some grated parmesan.
I have also been known to add some chopped shrimp too. And sometimes some sliced black olives, but add those just before serving at they can make the pasta look muddy. Some shredded red cabbage is good too...but added at the last minute so it doesn't bleed all over the pasta.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 11:19AM
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Personally, I don't think there is a really good cold pasta salad. Did you ever notice what salad has the most left over at the end of the meal? Or who has them on their plates at a buffet - not men or children, only other women who make pasta salads.

If you were to take an survey and have people rate typical picnic foods, I'd bet pasta salad (other than a traditional macaroni salad) would be in the bottom area of the list.

Or maybe it's just the events I attend. Sorry for ranting but pasta salads seem like such a waste of food and energy.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 5:23PM
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I would have to disagree with ruthanna. We went to a family reunion for my father in law this noon and most of my plate was filled with pasta salads. This is the first time that we have been able to go and there are some very good cooks in this family. I know that I could eat a pasta salad everyday and my picky DH and my non picky girls also love different salads. From crunchy ramen noodle salads, to creamy pasta salads, marinated pasta salads, seafood pasta salads, just about any kind of pasta salad. I know in the summer we make at least one pasta salad a week.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 5:53PM
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Ruthana - I actually LIKE pasta salad, but like you said it wasn't until I tasted GOOD pasta salad that I became that way. Usually they are too thick or too sweet, the pasta is mushy or gluey and for all the ingredients they are bland.

You have to cook the noodles just before al dente, and toss with SOME of the dressing, then let rest overnight. Then add the other ingredients and the rest of the dressing, and serve. The noodles are firm, the veggies taste fresh and the flavour of the dressing hasn't disappeared.

I make a greek pasta salad that disappears every time I make it. I use mixed coloured noodles. After cooking (just before done of course), I toss with a good greek vinagrette (olive oil and lemon, a bit of oregano or mint, garlic, salt and pepper). Let it rest overnight.

The next day I add cubed or crumbled feta cheese sliced black olives, chunked tomatoes and sweet onion, cucumber and green pepper. I mix more of the vinagrette with low-fat mayo (not salad dressing, and not fat free) and toss it with the pasta and veggies. Taste, add salt and pepper if needed. Looks pretty, and tastes great. I like it the next day too with the addition of leftover grilled chicken breasts that have been cubed.

Instead of full mayo, I almost always mix it with a vinegrette, and many times also cut it with sour cream or plain yogurt. The taste and texture is much better.

Another good one is cooked spaghetti or spaghettini, chopped grape tomatoes and sweet onion, slivered bell pepper and ribbons of cucumber tossed with a red wine vinegar vinagrette with lots of chives and parsley. I like to cut the noodles a bit so it is less messy to eat, and my sister prefers it sweeter so adds sugar or splenda.

Sometimes I make extra penne noodles for dinner so I can make a "BLT" pasta salad. I make a dressing of ketchup, mayo (or tomato sauce and miracle whip), chopped dill pickle, and chopped hardcooked eggs (recognize that? LOL - thousand island dressing). Add just enough dressing to coat the noodles, and rest overnight.

The next day I add tomato wedges (hot house ROFL, I know a sin, but that is what I like here), blanched broccoli florettes, chopped green onions and cucumber slices. Mix in the rest of the dressing and let chill for a bit. The final touch is a dish of real bacon bits for people to sprinkle on their own serving - if you mix them in the texture suffers. We also put out a bowl of 'salad fixings" - a mix of roasted soy nuts and sunflower seeds and raisins and dried cranberries and so on. Some of us like to add that, the thought of adding a raisin makes my hair stand on end LOL.

Overall I do agree though - if they aren't prepared right, and if they aren't kept ice cold pasta salads can be a waste of food and energy.

Who also loves potato salad any way you make it.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 6:11PM
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I'm another one that loves pasta salads and this is a favorite:
Cold Noodle Salad
12 oz linguine
2c snow peas, cut in thirds
1 carrot, julienned
1/2c chopped green onion
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3T Rice vinegar
2 1/2 T sesame oil
2 1 /2 T soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes`
Cook pasta and add carrots and snowpeas during the last 3 minutes. Drain well. Combine all dressing ingredients stirring til sugar and salt dissolve. Mix all together and serve at room temperature.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 6:21PM
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Obviously ruthanna has never had a GOOD pasta salad..LOL!
I few years ago, I made the salad I mentioned above for a buffet. There was not a bite left....not a crumb, not even one pea! LOL! There were other foods left, so i know people weren't starving to death, but all of that salad went and I thought I had lots.
I think a lot of pasta salads are too harsh...too much vinegar and the wrong kind of vinegar. White vinegar doesn't cut it for me in anything but pickles and to clean the coffee pot!
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 6:57PM
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If you add bacon, chicken or shrimp and dress it right before serving, people will eat it and love it.
Oh, and use a good home made dressing, add some fresh chopped basil (or spinach) and freshly grated (coarse so you can see it) Parmesan cheese.
Make it pretty, use bow-tie pasta and colorful with bell peppers and red onion.

Fresh Herb Dressing

1/2 cup extra-light olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
fresh basil; chopped
fresh oregano; chopped
fresh chive; chopped (or garlic)

Combine ingredients in glass jar and shake well.

***Store in refrigerator if using fresh herbs. Also good using dried herbs and garlic.


Italian Dressing

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried onion
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
a pinch of dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-light olive oil

Combine ingredients in a jar and shake well.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 8:33AM
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I made this one up. There's rarely any left.

AngÂs Pasta Salad

Cook about 1 and 1/2 cups of Rotina (multi-colored spiral-shaped pasta) according to package directions. Rinse and drain well.
Cook 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I sprinkle with seasoning salt and throw them on the grill).
Chop chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and add to drained pasta.
Rinse and drain one can of dark red kidney beans and add to pasta/chicken.
Drain one can of black olives. Cut each olive in half and add to pasta/chicken.
Pour in about 1/2 a bottle of Italian dressing (shake well)
Add extra chopped garlic (to taste)
Add fresh ground pepper (to taste)
Add about one cup of Parmesan Cheese (not the dry stuff in the green can!)
Mix well and refrigerate overnight

This is one of my "most requested" recipes. I took it to a potluck and one of the guys stole my 'recipe' and put the dish on the menu at his restaurant.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 12:42PM
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This is a favorite I got from my SIL. It was adapted from the recipe on the label of the key ingredient to this pasta salad - McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning.

12-oz. spaghetti (cook, rinse, cut-up)
8 oz. Italian Dressing (bottled)
1 t. sugar
3 green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1-2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 sweet pepper (color of choice)
1/2 bottle (McCormick) SALAD SUPREME SEASONING (I use much less than this, so try 1 t., or to taste)

Mix all ingredients together. Chill overnight. Keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.

I've altered it over the years to be LOTS of veggies, and only a small amount of pasta, which makes it less heavy and more refreshing. I add Italian dressing to taste (I use MUCH less than the recipe calls for).

Once you've made it, it quickly becomes a what's-in-the-refrigerator dish, like it is with most pasta salads. A good recipe when you have a dab of cooked macaroni or spaghetti and some veggies that need to be used up. Although the recipe calls for spaghetti, any kind of pasta will work, and as much or as little as you'd like to use. It's all about the dressing and seasonings.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 1:06PM
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Not pasta but a cold salmon and rice salad.It's simple and good as a main dish salad.
1 1/2 cup cooked rice
1 large can red salmon,drained
2 tablespoons lemon juice
green pepper ,onion ,celery to taste (Just calls for a few tablespoons of each which is not enough for me)
salt & pepper to taste
Put ingredients into bowl and mix lightly with the mayo.Serve on lettuce leaf.
Of course you could keep adding stuff like black olives,etc.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 2:43PM
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We love the salad that you posted but in a different way. I add sliced pepperoni, cubed mozerella cheese, and black olives. It really does taste better the second day. I can make a big bowl of this for our family and it will all be gone. I just call it my Italian salad.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 4:59PM
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Stacie (girlsingardens) - OMG - you've given this favorite new life and made it a complete meal by adding pepperoni, cheese, and black olives! I'll have to give your additions a try, and I'm sure we'll love them! No matter where I've served this pasta salad, people love it and ask for the recipe. I agree, the second day IS the best.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 7:51PM
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Grainlady, I make that salad too. As you mentioned, use lots of veggies and skimp on the pasta.

Stacie....I've added ham, bacon, mushrooms and Parm Reg or Asiago cheese along with what you mentioned. It's all good!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 9:11PM
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try using the dry tortellini - cheese of course instead of regular pasta. I make the one with the Salad Supreme and whatever veggies are available. You've got me thinking of what I can bring for lunch this weekend at my part time job!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 11:16AM
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