This cold pasta salad can be made either creamy or non-creamy and it is the perfect picnic or lunch idea for summer! Bring some good bread and butter, a big bowl of (non-) creamy pasta salad with chorizo and you've got yourself a tasty treat.
I always make this for the Summer months, I love to bring a batch to the beach (in a cooler) or out on a picnic in the garden. It is so simple to make, really versatile, and can easily feed a crowd! This is also very often served at parties, potlucks, and BBQs for both adults and kids.
For a healthier and lighter pasta salad recipe, I can recommend this tomato and zucchini pasta salad with a lemon vinaigrette. But don't rule this one out, because it has the very best pasta salad dressing.
Another dish that works just as well (or even better!) cold, is this chicken pesto pasta. That has been on the dinner rotation for about 15 years now and was the first dish I ever learned to make myself.
The Best Pasta Salad Dressing
I do prefer this pasta salad with the creamy dressing, as you know I love my mayo. However, I know a lot of people don't like the creamy mayoness (see what I did there?) and so I provide a super easy non-creamy version too, which is great as a dairy-free option as well.
For the creamy pasta salad dressing: Finely chop the pickled cucumber and mix it with all the other dressing ingredients. Taste and season accordingly.
For the non-creamy, sun-dried oil dressing: Shake the ingredients together in a jar with a lid. In photo numbered (1) in the collage, you can see how this dressing looks.
You can play around with the flavors you like best, but I really love the sweet and tangy mayo dressing, the pickles add such a nice briney touch!
How do you get the mayo dressing to stick to the pasta? Choosing the right pasta shape
To get the dressing to stick to the pasta salad, you need to choose the right kind of pasta or macaroni. Preferably, you should have ridged pasta, so that the dressing will stick in between the ridges. Choosing hollow pasta is a great alternative, as the sauce gets trapped inside the pasta.
- Fusilli: the corkscrew shape makes them perfect for holding onto sauces and dressings.
- Penne: the tube shape makes them perfect for filling with sauce and the ridges on the outside hold the sauce well too.
- Rigatoni: similar to the penne, and works great for the same reasons.
- Strozzapreti: the 'rolled towel'-shape also has nooks and crannies for sauces.
- Macaroni: the sauce can get trapped inside the hollow shape, choose ridged macaroni for maximum sauciness.
I usually go for penne or fusilli for this recipe.
Should I rinse pasta for a cold pasta salad?
Yes. If you don't rinse the pasta, the extra starch will lump all your pasta together making one big chunk of pasta. Simply rinse the pasta in cold water, in a colander. As this is a cold pasta salad, it doesn't matter that the pasta gets completely cold.
How long will it last properly stored?
Store this cold pasta salad in an airtight container, in the fridge for about 3-4 days. This is a dish that is great for make-ahead lunches!
How to make creamy pasta salad from scratch
Mix the ingredients for the dressing together, taste, and adjust seasonings accordingly. Cook pasta according to instructions on the box, and rinse in cold water in a colander after. Chop all the ingredients to desired size and place in a large bowl along with the dressing and rinsed cold pasta!
If there's any vegetable or meat you don't like, just leave it out. You can omit anything and replace it with anything, it is just that versatile! In the recipe card below I share with you my personal favorite combination, making it into a Spanish-style pasta salad.
It is delicious with bread and butter or why don't you try these cheese and bacon dinner rolls!
Did you like this recipe? Here are more Summer picnic recipes:
- Homemade Dinner Rolls with Cheese and Bacon
- Easy Homemade Pizza Rolls
- Tomato and Zucchini Pasta Salad
- Grilled Harissa Chicken Salad
- Healthy Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars
- Homemade Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping
- Ginger Lemon Iced Tea or Iced Hibiscus Lime Tea
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