Forget those pasta salads from your childhood with tons of mayonnaise, boring vegetables, and a little flavor. These pasta salad recipes are much more creative and satisfying. And they go well with just about any picnic food, from burgers to fried chicken. In the last days of summer, create your own pasta salad to say goodbye. Here are some inspirations for you!
Italian Pasta Salad
This is one of the more popular pasta salads that you can make for summer parties and picnics. Feel free to substitute your own favorite vegetables, but try to keep the marinated artichokes. They lend such a great flavor to this dish.
Tuna Macaroni Salad
There’s a local high-end grocery store in my neighborhood that makes a tuna pasta salad everyone just goes nuts over. But it is so simple to create it at home. This is my version, and I have to say it is darned good. I especially like the fact that I don’t have to pay $6.99 per pound for it!
Spinach Orzo Salad
Orzo is a type of small, rice-like pasta that pairs nicely with a fresh spinach sauce. This orzo salad also features wilted spinach, artichoke hearts, and cheese for a colorful and delicious side dish. Using freshly steamed artichoke hearts will give the dish nutty, buttery depth, but if that’s too much work, canned artichokes are just fine—simply rinse and drain before using. You may also be able to find prepared hearts in the fresh-packed area of the produce section.
This is a very healthy pasta salad, made with whole wheat tortellini, zucchini, red peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I like to make this salad in the summer when the zucchini is plentiful. Feel free to add or substitute different vegetables if you like. A red pepper dressing keeps this salad light.
Tangy Apricot Pecan Penne Pasta Salad
This vegetarian and vegan asparagus pasta salad with tomatoes, fresh parsley, and tossed in a quick and easy balsamic vinaigrette dressing is perfect for when fresh asparagus is in season. Fresh apricots, whole wheat penne pasta, and pecans add sweetness, nutty flavor, and texture to this wholesome, healthy pasta salad. This dish makes a great healthy lunch idea for the kids.
Pasta Green Bean Salad
This is a very simple, four-ingredient salad that goes well with just about everything, and it travels well, too, making it a perfect bring-along dish for potlucks and parties. If you want to switch things up a bit, try making this pasta salad with kale pesto.
You can mix fresh vegetables like arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, and black olives add wonderful color and texture to the pasta salad. The dressing has a touch of mayo and mustard, offering a creaminess while the lemon, garlic, and oregano bring various flavors.