Pasta Salad

The 10 Best Pasta Salad Recipes You Need This Summer

For Memorial Day weekend and beyond.

May 21, 2019
Photo by James Ransom

Happy Memorial Day weekend! Next to all the BBQ ribs, burgers, and hot dogs you're likely to be grilling, it helps to round things out with a solid, satisfying side dish—enter crowd-favorite pasta salad. Read on for our best pasta salad recipes, plus an easy formula for mixing one up yourself.


Let’s be honest—we never stopped eating pasta. It plays well with creamy, comforting flavors in colder months, then graciously welcomes warmer temperatures with bright, fresh zest. But while pasta is seasonless, the pasta salad screams summer.

From soba noodles dressed in citrus ginger to tender bow ties sprinkled with red pepper flakes and tomatoes, a cool, big bowl of pasta salad is endlessly versatile. You can plop in whatever farmer’s market bounty you find: cucumbers, carrots, corn, or radishes. Plus, they hold up (even improve!) over time as dressings and ingredients marinate—no wilting or getting soggy. So, now as we're entering long summer days, we’re piling our plates with these eight beauties.


Pasta Salad Recipes

1. No-Mayo Peperonata Pasta Salad

"Want to know how to change hearts and minds about pasta salad? Make this one for your next backyard BBQ or picnic with friends," writes Food52 contributor EmilyC. "Peperonata—the classic Southern Italian side dish of sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes melted in olive oil—is a swell companion to pasta. It’s packed full of vegetables and serves as the dressing (a win for pasta salad, a big win for you). Better yet, the peperonata can be made several days in advance and tossed with freshly-cooked pasta whenever you’re ready."

2. Antipasto Orzo Pasta Salad

"The jars on your refrigerator door have joined forces in a pasta salad that tastes like the best parts of an antipasto platter (or an Italian hero)," claims recipe author Sarah Jampel. "To bulk it up, top it with folded prosciutto, or mix in cubes of salami or Parmesan. If you have everything on hand, this salad will be ready as soon as the orzo is boiled (10 minutes!). If you're not quite so stocked, you can caramelize the onions in the oven for a hands-free, low-commitment alternative and buy pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers from the store. (We won't tell.)"

3. Cold Vegetable & Noodle Salad With Ponzu Dressing

This is a great way to get acquainted with tart and salty ponzu sauce: tossed with silky udon and a medley of crunchy, fresh vegetables and herbs.

4. Summer Pasta Alla Caprese

"I remember many a warm summer night when, motivated by a strong aversion to turning on the oven, my mother would whip up a quick pasta with a no-cook sauce," Co-Founder and President Merrill Stubbs writes. "One of my favorite iterations was a variation on a popular theme: pasta with raw tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and sometimes basil." If you love caprese salads but also want to be full an hour after dinner, just add all those tasty components to pasta."

5. Orzo Salad With Scallions, Hazelnuts & Golden Raisins

A make-ahead masterpiece if we’ve ever seen one! You can mix the dressing, plump the raisins, and toast the hazelnuts the night before.

6. Miso Peanut Pasta Salad

Macaroni salad gets a new personality. Instead of creamy cheese, coat noodles in peanut butter and miso, then add some spice with vinegar and chile-garlic sauce.

7. Bow Tie Pasta Salad With No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Celebrate tomato season with Michel Guérard's Genius Sauce Vierge, a gorgeous no-cook tomato sauce. The combination of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs shines in this simply-dressed pasta salad.

8. Cold Sesame Noodle Salad

Here's an almost no-cook, five-ingredient pasta salad that will actually help you cool down. "A note on noodle choice: any long, thin pasta will do," recipe author Kendra Vaculin advises. "Vermicelli or thin rice noodles (like those pictured here) are great gluten-free options, and hold up much better than brown rice noodles when cooked and then chilled. If it's what you have in your pantry or all you can find, plain ol' spaghetti works just as well."

9. Jaengban Guksu

Meanwhile, some people like to eat hot foods in the summer. If you’re looking for a spicy kick, gochujang takes this pasta salad to the next level.

10. Lemon-Dill Orzo Pasta Salad With Cucumbers, Olives & Feta

"The flavors in this pasta salad are mild and subtle—perfect for complementing grilled salmon or a roasted chicken with pan juices," writes Food52er viblanco. "At first, the grated shallot and Dijon in the vinaigrette may seem like they would overwhelm the dish, but both settle in without a hint of bite. The use of feta and olives also brings a bit of salty flavor with each taste."


Or Make Your Own

Summer’s a time for free spirits. Riff on your favorite pasta shapes and flavors to create your own masterpiece. Here's a simple formula to follow: 3/4 to 1 cup of dressing for each pound of dried pasta. Add in all of your favorites (vegetables, nuts, herbs, and cheeses) and mix gently.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“The ads on the right side of the page cover up part of the recipes. Clicking to get rid of the ad does not remedy the problem. I really enjoy and have used recipes from your site many times. This is a new issue.”
— Diana H.
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For the full guide, see here:

What's your favorite pasta salad recipe? Please share in the comments below!

This piece was originally published in May 2018, but we're bringing it back this summer with brand-new recipes to celebrate Memorial Day weekend in style.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.

6 Comments

Ellen B. May 28, 2019
I agree with Diana H. The ads on the right are covering up the articles and recipes .
 
Noel K. May 27, 2019
The no-mayo pepperonata is one you might make without a recipe, except that the proportions given are excellent, a useful guide. It was neither too oily, nor too vinegary, herbs and nuts just right. I skipped the mozzarella, mixed in a little grated Parmesan, added shavings as I served. Great plant-pinching use for new seasonal herbs!
 
jackie D. May 27, 2019
My family loves pasta salads, especially in the summer but I make them in winter also. A fave is pasta, good already made pesto, cold cut of your choice (ham, mortadella, salami) cut up in slivers and all kinds of in- the- jar store bought veggies (onions, pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, eggplant...whatever you prefer). Easy-peasy and quick!
 
awj May 27, 2019
fusilli pasta, tricolor perhaps; oil-packed diced sundried tomatoes (the oil is the dressing); roasted bell peppers; drained water-pack artichoke hearts; (now discontinued) garlic-marinated mushrooms, drained; ribbons of basil. Family joke was that one traveled down the aisles of Trader Joe's and picked up cans and jars of things that looked good. Have added protein as baby shrimp, diced chicken.
 
Diana H. May 27, 2019
The ads on the right side of the page cover up part of the recipes. Clicking to get rid of the ad does not remedy the problem. I really enjoy and have used recipes from your site many times. This is a new issue.
 
David K. May 29, 2018
Spirals of various shapes, with chopped mozzarella, basil, oil, garlic, tomatoes and parsley. Served warm (to get that cheese melt) and then room temp or cool.