Make Ahead

20 Reasons to Fall Back in Love with Pasta Salad

August 12, 2016

You sit in one of two camps when it comes to pasta salad:

  1. It is the precursor to grain salads: a portable, good-at-room-temp lunch and picnic essential. Where would we be without it?
  2. It is to the picnic spread what Brie is to the cheese plate: Everyone likes it—at least good versions of it—all the while aware that its glimmer shined brighter at another time, that time being the 80s.

For those of you in Camp 2, the 20 salads to come are much more interesting than the mushy tri-colored stuff you’re thinking of: These have flair, from thoughtful dressings and cool pasta shapes to add-ins that suit.

The pasta mushiness? That is up to you.

Tell us about a pasta salad you love passionately and unabashedly in the comments below.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • PHIL
  • sarah
  • irina
  • Laura Guill
    Laura Guill
Editor/writer/stylist. Last name rhymes with bagel.


PHIL August 12, 2016
Pasta + Salad = Yes. Farfalle or tortellini , fresh tomato chunks , cubed fresh mutz, shaved Parmesan, olive oil, balsamic, red onion , chiffonade of spinach parsley and basil. squeeze of lemon , garlic powder, S & P Yes, room temp NOT ice cold . C'mon Laura , get in on it....
sarah August 12, 2016
fussili, fresh tomatoes, dried tomatoes, arugula, olive oil and lots and lots of balsamic
irina August 12, 2016
The old Le Cirque Pasta Primavera, room temperature!
Laura G. August 12, 2016
Ha, sorry, I'd be in Camp 3: One big NOPE. I can't stand pasta salads. Even a pesto version is a no go. (But serve it warm, and I'm all over it!)

It's something about the texture and bite of cold pasta. No matter the noodle shape or thickness (even orzo).... it doesn't do anything for me. However, I'll give the rice noodle salad and the (finer) couscous salads a shot -- those are right in my wheelhouse.