Tips for a Better Pasta Salad

At Isernio’s, we love gathering with good friends and good food. This time of year, that usually means coming together for a backyard barbecue, a potluck picnic, or another get-together where you’re expected to bring a dish to share. 

Pasta salad is a pretty popular party food, but that doesn’t mean that yours has to look anything like the other guy’s. We’ve come up with a comprehensive list of all the possible pasta salad components so you can put together a combo that’s uniquely and deliciously yours. 

Pastas: Don’t make the mistake of believing the pasta is simply a vehicle for the rest of the ingredients so its shape doesn’t really matter. Instead, choose your pasta specifically to match the rest of your dish. Avoid long noodles (like spaghetti or linguine), and opt for sturdier options that will hold up to the other components.

Penne, Rotini, Farfalle, or Shells
Mini versions of the above shapes
Orecchiette
Gnocchi
Tortellini
Orzo
Tri-color pasta for visual interest

Veggies: Most often, veggies add great color to your pasta salad. But you can also use them to flip the tables on the traditional pasta salad by making it vegetable-heavy and using pasta as a complement; envision a spinach salad with gnocchi sprinkled throughout. 

Peppers
Cucumbers
Cherry tomatoes
Spinach
Peas
Green beans
Corn

Dressing: Pasta salad is usually tossed in a vinaigrette or mayonnaise-based sauce. Especially during the hotter months, skip the mayo-based dressings and opt for something that won’t spoil so quickly.

Italian salad dressing
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Lemon juice and dill
Pesto sauce

Cheese: Think outside the box here! There are so many great options at your local grocer, from sweet-and-smooth fruited varieties to sharp and spicy cheeses. You might even pick your favorite one and build your whole recipe around it! 

Cubed cheddar
Fresh mozzarella
Shaved parmesan

Feta cheese
Blue cheese
Goat cheese

Meats: Meat is optional, but we love the addition of a good, savory protein to round out the dish. Most recipes call for your meat to be cooked and cubed, but in the right dish you could also get away with a ground meat if it’s seasoned well and fits with the rest of the ingredients.

Cooked, diced sausage
Cubed chicken
Bacon
Diced ham
Pepperoni, salami, or other cured meat

What’s in your signature pasta salad? We’d love for you to make one this summer using our fresh, premium Isernio’s ingredients. Try our Italian Seasoned Ground Chicken, our Italian Chicken or Pork Sausages, or our Chicken Spinach and Feta for a perfectly paired flavor.

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