As a self-professed carb-a-holic....cold pasta salads are one of my favorite meal options in the warmer salad months. But between you and me...I'm not a mayo fan. Don't get me wrong...I'll smash some garlic aoli or dip some Belgian fries in [Ina Garten voice] ~good~ mayo....but I don't want it in many more places. Try one of these fresh pasta salad that are ~sans~ the creamy stuff.
Actual video footage of me eating pasta.
1. Caprese Pesto Salad
One of my favorite things to nosh on is a caprese salad... This is a perfect blend of my love of pasta and the tomato+mozz+balsamic+basil blend.
- 1½ cups orecchiette pasta, or other small pasta
- 3 tablespoons pesto, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, more to taste
- ¾ cup halved grape tomatoes
- ¾ cup small pearlini fresh mozzarella balls (or ciliegine cut in half)
- 3 leaves fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook the pasta at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain and cool.
2. Mix pesto, olive oil, salt, granulated garlic, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. You can add more balsamic to taste but it will start to change the color of the dressing unless you are using white balsamic vinegar.
3. Add pasta and toss to coat. Fold in tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil.
4. Chill in the fridge until ready to eat.
Get the full caprese pesto salad recipe here
2. Strawberry Balsamic Pasta Salad
Strawberries and balsamic are an unexpected match made in heaven.
- 1 lb. farfalle
- 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 c. Feta, crumbled
- 2 c. strawberries, quartered
- 1/2 c. baby spinach
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 c. almond slivers, toasted, for garnish
1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook farfalle according to package directions until al dente. Drain, then transfer to a large serving bowl.
2. Make balsamic glaze: In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
3. To bowl, add feta, strawberries and spinach. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and garnish with almonds.
Get the full strawberry balsamic pasta salad recipe here.
3. Pasta, Quinoa, and Edamame Salad
So. much. health. But doesn't taste healthy.
- 2 cups quinoa
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups farfalle noodles (bow tie)
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 1 (15.25-oz) can canned corn, drained
- 3/4 cup coriander, finely chopped
- 1 (12-oz) can edamame, cooked and without pods
- 2 red bell peppers, cubed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 1 garlic clove (or more, to taste), finely chopped
- Salt, to taste
1. In a medium-sized frying pan, incorporate the quinoa, water and salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer until the quinoa is fully cooked. Pour quinoa in a bowl and let cool.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, you can also cook the farfalle pasta until al dente. Drain and let cool.
3. Once the quinoa and pasta have cooked, mix them in a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Add salt, to taste.
Get the full pasta, quinoa, and edamame salad recipe here.
4. Pad Thai Pasta Salad
An Italian/Pad Thai fusion? Sign me up.
- 1 Pound Whole Wheat Pasta
- 1 Pound Tamarind Pods
- 2 Cups Fresh Peas
- 1 Cup Chopped Bean Sprouts
- 1 Cup Shredded Carrots
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro
- 2 Bunches Green Onion (chopped)
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Peanuts
- 3 Limes
- 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Mayo
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1. Make the sauce: Shell all the tamarind and put into a sauce pot with about 1/4 cup of water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then push through a mesh strainer, retaining the tamarind pulp and discarding the seeds and strings. Be sure to scrape the pulp off the bottom of the strainer and mix it with the rest. Now stir in the sriracha, lime juice, fish sauce, and mayo. Salt and taste the sauce and adjust to your liking.
2. Chop and prep the rest of the ingredients. Drop the pasta in some boiling water. Cook the peas in with the pasta during the last 2 minutes of boiling. When it's ready, strain and immedietly toss in a bowl with the sauce, bean sprouts, and carrots. Put into the fridge to cool. When cool, add the cilantro, green onion, and peanuts and mix well. Taste and adjust your seasonings.
Get the full pad thai pasta salad recipe here.
5. Easy Greek Pasta Salad
Everything you love about a Greek nosh at your fork-tip.
- 16 oz short pasta (rotini, bow ties, penne)
- 3/4 long english cucumber , diced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes , halved
- 1 bell pepper (red or orange), diced
- 1/2 cup sliced pitted olives
- 1/2 cup feta cheese , cubed
- 1/3 cup red onion , diced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- salt & pepper to taste
1. Whisk together dressing ingredients.
2. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss.
4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
Get the full Greek pasta salad recipe here.
6. Lemony Artichoke Pasta Salad
Fresh, clean, and summery. All in a bowl.
- 1 pound (16 ounces) uncooked pasta (I used gemelli)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1 (14 ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained and roughly-chopped
- 2/3 cup freshly-crated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 batch Lemon Basil Vinaigrette (see below)
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1. Cook the pasta in a large stockpot of generously-salted water until it is al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water for about 20-30 seconds until no longer hot. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, as the pasta water is heating and the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped asparagus, season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sliced garlic, and continue sautéing the mixture for 1-2 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and the asparagus is tender but still slightly crisp on the inside. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, asparagus mixture, artichoke hearts, Parmesan and toasted pine nuts. Drizzle evenly with the lemon basil vinaigrette, then toss to combine.
4. Serve immediately, garnished with extra Parmesan if desired. Or cover and refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Get the full lemon artichoke pasta salad recipe here.
7. Orzo Salad with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts
Orzo is a totally underrated pasta. And pine nuts are totally under-utilized. They shine in this dish..you won't be disappointed.
- 1 pound orzo
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
- 1/2 medium English cucumber, seeded and cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 scallions, finely chopped (white and light green parts only)
- 2 tablespoons tightly packed, finely grated lemon zest (from about 3 medium lemons)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain the pasta well and transfer it to a large, nonreactive bowl.
2. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, pine nuts, olive oil, basil, parsley, scallions, lemon zest, and lemon juice and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice as needed. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Get the full orzo salad recipe here.
8. Garden Veggie Tortellini Pasta Salad
Tortellini are like little cheese-stuffed nuggets of deliciousness. And this salad just makes them EVEN BETTER.
- 1 (9 oz) package regular cheese tortellini
- 1 (9 oz) package spinach cheese tortellini
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1/2-1 cup corn (steamed from frozen/fresh or canned)
- 1 heaping cup grape/cherry tomatoes
- 4 oz cheddar cheese, cubed
- optional parsley and/or green onion for a tasty burst of color + garnish
- 1/2 cup quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 TBSP Mrs. Dash Italian Seasoning blend
- 1/2 TBSP garlic powder, plus extra to taste
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
1. Bring a medium-large pot to boil over high heat and cook tortellini per package instructions. 2. Tortellini Tip: when cooking fresh chilled ravioli, start with a rolling boil on high, add pasta, then decrease heat to medium-low simmer to prevent pasta breakage.
3. While your pasta cooks, whisk together your dressing by combining the ingredients and whisk (or pop it in a mason jar and shake) until well combined. Ingredients will separate naturally, simply whisk/shake again before pouring and you're good to go!
4. Chop your peppers and tomatoes and prep your corn. If using canned corn, simply drain and rinse. Fresh or frozen will require a quick steam and you're good to go!
5. Once tortellini is tender and al-dente, strain in a colander and rinse briefly with cold water. Pour into a large bowl and add your veggies, cheese, parsley.
6. Stir or shake dressing well and pour HALF the dressing over your salad. Cover and allow to chill. This step allows your pasta and veggies to soak up some of the delicious flavor from the dressing which almost acts as a marinade here.
7. Ready to eat? Drizzle a little extra dressing over the salad (both will keep in an airtight container for approx. 4 days) and give it a taste. Add extra if desired or dive right in!
Get the full garden veggie tortellini pasta salad recipe here.
Because everybody loves pasta.
SHARE with your fellow carb-a-holics or anti-mayos!