Who wants to give up one of the best carby comfort foods just because it’s hot out? You can make yours light, healthy, and refreshing just by using a ton of fresh veggies and giving it plenty of time to chill. We talked to a couple of pro chefs to get some more insider tips on how to make an awesome pasta salad.
“Pick a pasta with more shape—such as farfalle or penne—to catch more of the sauce of the other ingredients, creating a more fulfilling bite,” says Sydney Willcox, culinary instructor at The Brooklyn Kitchen. “Cook the pasta in salted water to help bring out the flavor. Dress your pasta while it’s still warm, and let it cool slightly before transferring it to the fridge. When you take it out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature before digging in. This allows for more flavors to come out, and lets your sauce loosen up to a silkier consistency.” And be sure not to overdress it, adds Willcox, or you could end up with a soggy dish.
A few more pointers: “Choose a good quality of dried pasta—made with durum flour and preferably an artisanal brand, if possible,” says Chef Cesare Casella, author of Feeding the Heart: Recipes, Flavors, and the Seed to Belly Philosophy of the Department of Nourishment Arts. “Make sure the chunks of vegetables, meat, or cheese that you add aren’t cut bigger than the size of the pasta. No matter what kind you’re making, I like to brighten it at the end with rucola, basil, and parsley—any sprinkle of green.”
Click through for 20 great recipes that will inspire you to make a summery pasta salad ASAP.