Pasta salad is go-to for summer parties and get togethers. But you don’t simply just toss pasta, veggies, and dressing together! It all starts with the perfect pasta.
While pasta salads are simple to make, you have to follow a few simple steps to make the most delicious pasta salad ever! And it all starts with the pasta.
There are many different pastas to choose from. If you start off with the wrong pasta, your pasta salad won’t be the hit of the party!
Ready to make the best pasta salad ever? Let’s go.
The Best Pasta for Pasta Salads
Skip fresh pasta!
I love fresh pasta but it’s not a good match for making pasta salad. Dry pasta on the other hand is your pasta salad BFF. It holds up well and can be served at room temperature.
Fresh pasta is more delicate which means it can get pretty banged up when you toss your pasta salad. It also won’t hold up sitting in dressing over night or during a party.
Dry pasta is also cheaper which means won’t break the bank when you have to make a big batch of pasta salad for a party.
Size and shape matter.
When it comes to picking pasta for your pasta salad, you want a pasta that has grooves or ridges. These nooks and crannies will really hold on to the dressing and pack a punch to your pasta salad.
Skip longer pastas! You don’t want your guests to have to twirl their spaghetti or have long noodles sliding over their plates.
Shorter pasta like farfalle (bow tie) or fusilli (my favorie) is easier to serve and easier to eat. My other go-to pastas are penne or the classic elbow macaroni.
You don’t need any special kitchen equipment to make pasta so there’s no excuse not to make pasta salad right now!
To make pasta, you’ll need:
✔ Glass mixing bowl with lid: You’ll need a large mixing bowl to mix your pasta salad. Use the largest bowl you have. The last thing you want is all your ingredients flying out of the bowl while you mix it! I also like to use a bowl with a lid. I can serve and store my pasta salad in the same bowl saving me dishes to wash!
Tips for cooking pasta.
Salt your water like the sea. Salting the water allows you the opportunity to season your pasta. Follow the golden rule: 1 tablespoon of sea salt for every gallon of water used.
Bring your water to a rolling boil. This is where you patience comes in. Do not put your pasta in the water until you have a rolling boil. You need to make sure the water is the right temperature before you throw your pasta in. If you add them too soon, your pasta will be soggy.
Stir. After you drop your pasta in the boiling water, stir it around! This will keep your pasta from clumping and sticking together or to the pot itself.
Watch your cooking time. Always check the package of your pasta for suggested cooking times. You can start checking your pasta about two minutes before the suggested time. Al dente pasta is tender but firm. You do not want to over cook your pasta for your pasta salad. It’s needs to be firm to hold everything together!
Do not rinse! When you drain your pasta from the water, do not rinse! You will lose all the starchy goodness that is on the pasta.
Now that you know the perfect pasta for your pasta salad, it’s time to make the actual pasta salad! Below are some of our favorites.
If you are looking for even more pasta salad recipes, check our list of the Best Pasta Salads Ever!