It seems like a good time for Cold Pasta Salad Recipe and this is one which you will surely make several times during the summer months. The recipe makes enough for a crowd and is a perfect side dish for summer cookouts.
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Hot summer days and cold pasta salad go together like peas and carrots. This salad is unlike your homemade Italian dressing recipe salad. This one has a unique blend of juicy tomatoes, fresh herbs, vinegar, and garlic to make a tangy dressing.
Ingredients You Will Need For This Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
The ingredients in the salad are easy to prepare:
- Rotini pasta The dressing clings to the curly shape. Other pasta shapes are okay too.
- English or hothouse cucumber
- Yellow and red bell pepper
- Grape tomatoes
- Scallions (green onion)
- Black olives
- Fresh parsley
- Feta cheese
Assembling The Pasta Salad
Just chop up the veggies into the size you like and you are nearly done making the salad.
Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions then let it cook for another minute. The pasta is best when it is soft. Run cold water over it to cool.
Put all of the salad ingredients, except the feta cheese, into a large mixing bowl and fold together. Next comes the dressing.
The Dressing Ingredients (with a fun twist)
- Can of diced tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, or more if you like
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, (2 or 3 leafy sprigs)
- Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Red pepper flakes
Here is the fun twist. This homemade dressing is made in a food processor. Toss all of the ingredients into a food processor and run for 20 to 30 seconds so you make a smooth dressing.
Give the dressing a taste and add extra salt, vinegar, pepper flakes, or even garlic if you feel it needs more. This dressing is the essence of the flavor of the dish so it has to taste to your liking.
Then give the dressing a few more pulses in the food processor.
I used my handy little Kitchen Aid food processor, (#ad) to blend the dressing ingredients. This is a sweet, small processor you can see in the link.
Variations And Tasty Options
This salad is quite versatile and additional flavors and textures can be added and others subtracted.
- Thin sliced zucchini
- Kalamata olives
- Mozzarella balls
- Summer sausage
- Red onion
- Scoop of pesto
- Bacon bits
These can either be substitutions or additions.
Also, any short pasta shape can be used. I used Rotini pasta because it has lots of surface area to hold onto the tomatoey salad dressing. Cook it until thoroughly softened, then rinse it under cool water.
Other pasta types to use are fusilli, farfalle, (bow ties), and even conchiglie, (like a medium shell).
For a gluten-free diet, try gluten-free pasta. I have tried some of these and they are hard to tell the difference between flour pasta.
If you are interested, here is a great article on cooking pasta… Pasta: 8 Common Mistakes in Cooking …interesting tidbits to better pasta.
- For best results, refrigerate the salad for an hour or so after making it. This will allow the flavors to meld and develop.
- Store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- If the salad seems dry after storing, drizzle a bit more olive oil on or even the juice from a lemon. Give it a stir to combine and loosen.
What To Serve With Cold Pasta Salad
The best way to serve this though, is with some grilled burgers or brats….outdoors with a family dinner or with friends.
Make the salad a day ahead if you like because it stores well in the fridge and is a good leftover.
This cold pasta salad recipe makes enough for a crowd and is perfect for a summer party. Fresh vegetables and ingredients make this a great, healthy side dish.
Here are some more tasty recipes to try:
- Southwest Dressing Recipe
- Cold Tuna Salad
- Spinach and Potato Quiche
- Tender Beef Tips and Egg Noodles
Pasta Salad Recipe With Feta Cheese And Basil Dressing
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 3 large garlic cloves , coarse chopped
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil tightly packed
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 lbs Rotini pasta cooked according to package directions, a little past al dente
- 1 English cucumber , chopped
- 1 medium red pepper , chopped
- 1 medium yellow pepper , chopped
- 2 cups grape tomatoes , halved
- 3 green onions , chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley , chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives , halved
- 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
- Puree the ingredients of the dressing in a food processor or blender, 20 to 30 seconds. Set aside and allow to cool in the refrigerator or make and cool overnight in the refrigerator.
- Cook the pasta until well softened, (just a minute past what you would call al dente). Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Chop the vegetables and place all the ingredients except the feta cheese in a large bowl, then toss to combine with the olive oil.
- Add the pasta and dressing and toss again. The salad may then be refrigerated. An hour is recommended to allow the flavors to develop.
- Just before serving, add the crumbled feta and serve cold or at room temperature.
- An English or hothouse cucumber is best for this salad as it will not sweat liquid like a regular cucumber will do.
- Keep leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 4 or 5 days.
- Use variations in the salad as suggested in the blog text.
- Recipe adapted from Cook's Country.