There’s no better way to celebrate spring than a good old-fashioned barbecue. Whether you’re throwing one yourself or you’ve just been lucky enough to make the invite list, you’re going to need to think about the sides to go with the meat. You can’t go wrong with a tasty pasta salad, and we’ve compiled a few different options here from a few of our favorite Southern food bloggers.
With a variety of takes on the dish, you’re sure to find an option to fit any occasion and please any type of crowd!
Picnic Macaroni with Italian Dressing
By: Laura Lea of Laura Lea Balanced
Laura Lea, of Laura Lea Balanced, shared this option for a pasta salad that’s about as authentic as it gets. This recipe, from a forthcoming cookbook releasing next year, has all the comfort of a classic pasta salad (salami, mozzarella, Italian dressing) and is made with fresh ingredients.
- ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan (sub nutritional yeast)
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 16 ounces pasta of choice, cooked, rinsed and cooled. Can toss with a thin layer of avocado oil to prevent sticking (I recommend Banza rotini)
- ½ yellow bell pepper, diced into ¼” pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- ⅔ cup sliced black olives
- ⅓ cup finely minced red onion
- 6 ounces uncured nitrate-free salami (I like Applegate Farms brand)
- 8 ounces fresh mini-mozzarella balls, sliced in half
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more to taste
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate while you prepare pasta salad.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss cooked noodles with all ingredients except basil. Add dressing to taste. I personally use the entire batch, but you can start with half and go from there.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours, ideally 8 or overnight, before serving. Garnish with fresh basil and extra grated parmesan (if using), before serving.
- Salad will keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator up to four days.
Zucchini “Pasta” Salad
By: Cara Greenstein of Caramelized
For you non-traditionalists, Cara from Caramelized has an alternative pasta salad recipe to sneak some veggies into your side. By substituting zucchini noodles for regular ones, Cara’s recipe tastes light and fresh, making it perfect to enjoy in the warm weather months.
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- ⅓ cup barley
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese
- Freshly ground pepper
- Trim the ends of the zucchini, spiralize into spaghetti-like noodles, and place in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and massage lightly to evenly disperse. Let sit for 20 or so minutes (or as long as it takes to prepare the rest of the salad).
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add barley and, stirring occasionally, cook until pleasantly chewy, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar and remaining salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, barley and half of the dressing. If the barley is still very hot, let the mixture sit until just warm, stirring occasionally.
- Squeeze the zucchini to rid any excess moisture and add to the bowl, along with the remaining dressing and basil. Stir and transfer to a serving bowl. Crumble the feta over the top, add a few basil leaves, and serve at room temperature (or refrigerate for a few hours beforehand).
Taco Pasta Salad
By: Stacey of Southern Bite
Stacey of the Southern Bite is known for helping you make weeknight meals easy, and apparently, he’s also quite the innovator. Who would’ve thought to mix tacos and pasta? Don’t knock it ’til you try it because these two classics happen to pair quite nicely together in this taco pasta salad.
- 1 (1-pound) box rotini pasta
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 (1-ounce) packet taco seasoning
- 2 ripe avocados, diced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 1½ cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
- 1 (15.25-ounce) whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, washed and sliced in half
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Cook the pasta according to the pasta instructions to just al dente. Cool completely by running cool water over the pasta, then drain.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and taco seasoning. Set aside.
- Once the avocados are diced, toss them in the lime juice to prevent them from browning.
- Combine the pasta, avocados, onion, cheese, corn, beans, tomatoes, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix to combine.
Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad
By: Jackie Garvin of Syrup and Biscuits
If you’re wanting to evoke nostalgia from your crowd, cookbook author and creator of Syrup and Biscuits, Jackie Garvin, has an old-timey recipe to add to the list. This no-nonsense old-fashioned macaroni salad is exactly like what you would see at church potlucks. The slight tang from the rice vinegar gives the salad just a bit of sweetness.
- 4 cups dried elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 cup Duke's mayonnaise
- 4 ounces jarred pimento
- ⅔ cup rice vinegar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
- 1 cup grated carrot (about 2 medium)
- Cook elbow macaroni in boiling salted water according to package direction. Add one tablespoon cooking oil to the water before it boils. Don't overcook the macaroni. Seven minutes is about all you need.
- While the macaroni cooks, prepare the sauce. Or you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until ready for use. However you decide to do it is your preference have the sauce ready to go because you need to mix the drained macaroni in the sauce while the macaroni is still hot. That's the most important part of this whole recipe. The sauce will look like a runny mess. That's exactly the way you want it. When the macaroni's hot, it will absorb most of the liquid. If you thrown cold macaroni into your sauce, you will be disappointed and might be tempted to use disparaging words against me. Please don't do that. The sauce that began as a runny mess will stay a runny mess unless you mix it with hot drained macaroni.
- Throw all the sauce ingredients into the biggest bowl you've got. Stir it well.
- As soon as the macaroni is done, drain it and add it to the sauce while it's still hot. (refer to diatribe above)
- Stir well. Then, stir again. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
- Cover and place in refrigerator for 4 hours or until well chilled.
- Stir before serving.
Super Simple Summer Pasta Salad
By: Wesley Ware of StyleBlueprint
StyleBlueprint’s own Wesley Ware happens to be quite gifted at recipe creation, and her summer pasta salad is no exception. This vegan pasta salad is an ideal option for our dairy-free friends, but it is a crowd pleaser for non-vegans also.
- 2 cups pasta of choice
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- ⅓ cup sliced black olives
- ¼ cup finely sliced red cabbage
- ½ cup vegan mayo (we use Hampton Creek JUST mayo)
- ¾ cup your choice of dairy-free Italian Dressing
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Bring pasta to a boil and cook according to package instructions. Once pasta is cooked, drain and place into a large bowl.
- Add chopped broccoli and set in refrigerator to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, add onions, olives and cabbage. Stir.
- In a separate bowl, combine mayo and Italian dressing and mix with a spoon.
- Pour dressing over pasta bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Place in refrigerator and let marinate overnight for best results.
- Add salt & pepper to taste.
Enjoy your pasta and your party!
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