Pasta salad’s back on the menu in a big way this summer. Not content with mere side dish status, the best pasta salads are busting out main-dish moves with bold tastes and textures. The only question is, can you handle this much flavor?
Bold Move: Go Clubbing
Why do you order a club sandwich? Because you want to cram all those layers of smoky, meaty, cheesy, crunchy, creamy satisfaction into every bite. This salad is all that, and you can make a huge bowlful to share. “A good idea for hot summer nights as a cool dinner dish. My family LOVED it,” says mad4nc.
Bold Move: Hail Caesar
Quick and easy can be super-tasty, too. Creamy Caesar salad dressing amps up the flavor in this 5-ingredient salad that comes together in minutes. Brianna says, “Lots of flavor from the Caesar dressing and pepperoni. Fresh broccoli gives it a nice crunch, making the overall texture of this pasta salad superb.”
Bold Move: It’s All Greek
Fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and sweet bell peppers mix it up with sharp, salty feta cheese, olives, and pepperoni, while a homemade vinaigrette loaded with Mediterranean herbs brings it all together. You’ll want to make the salad a day ahead so the flavors can get to know each other better. “The first time I made it was for a block party, and after tasting it, my husband wanted me to make something else to take so he could have this all for himself,” says CMACINTYRE.
Bold Move: Double the Basil
You get two big hits of basil’s pungent green flavor when fresh basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese are enveloped with a zesty basil pesto sauce. “Super tasty, and very healthy,” says Alaniwhat. She used gluten-free rotini, and it was a huge hit.
More: Get top-rated pesto recipes.
Bold Move: Bacon + Ranch for the Win
A generous helping of crispy, smoky bacon is what sets this salad apart from others that just sprinkle it on a bit. Cool and creamy ranch dressing pulls the rest of the ingredients together for a pasta salad that’s definitely not for timid taste buds.
More: Check out homemade ranch dressing recipes.
Bold Move: Customize a Classic
This is the pasta salad everyone makes their own. They add this, tweak that, and pretty soon they’ve created a signature salad their friends beg them to bring. What will you add?