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How to Make an Awesome Pasta Salad From Pantry Items

bowl of pasta salad with tomatoes and other veg

Since it’s inexpensive and delicious, chances are you keep pasta in your pantry. During the warmer months, a cold pasta salad can be a refreshing change from hot meals. Pasta salad is a very flexible dish. The only must-haves are the pasta and something to serve as dressing. Here’s a guide to making pasta salad with what’s available in your pantry.

Picking Your Pasta

Small pasta shapes like macaroni, farfalle (bow-tie), rotini, and penne are the easiest to make pasta salad with. Even a long pasta like spaghetti will work if you break it into smaller pieces before cooking.

Choosing a Dressing

You’ll need about 8 ounces of dressing for every two cups of dry pasta you’re cooking. One of these would make a great dressing:


Plain yogurt

Ranch dressing

Italian dressing

Also, making homemade dressing is as simple as mixing a cup of mayo with two teaspoons of mustard, and two tablespoons of vinegar. A homemade vinaigrette is easy to prepare too. You only need to stir together one-fourth cup of vinegar and three-fourths cup of oil. Any vinegar and oil works, but popular choices are olive oil with red wine vinegar or cider vinegar.

Finding Other Ingredients

Pasta salad usually has some combination of veggies, cheese, or meat. One classic combo is grape tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, and red onion. Since you’re using what’s available in your pantry, you may need to look at alternatives.

Other good vegetable choices include peas, mixed vegetables, diced tomatoes, carrots, or olives. Canned or frozen vegetables would be great additions to a pasta salad. Before they go in the salad, canned vegetables need to be drained and frozen vegetables have to be cooked.

You may decide pasta, dressing, and veggies complete your salad. Or you might add a bit of chopped cheddar or a few sprinkles of parmesan. If you’re looking for a protein source, you could try tuna, a can of beans (drained), or canned ham

Making the Salad

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and then rinse with cold water. Then, drain again and toss the pasta with a little oil. The oil keeps the pasta from sticking together. Let the pasta chill for about 30 minutes. Next, use a large bowl to mix your pasta, dressing, and other ingredients. Chill your salad for at least another 30 minutes.

The Takeaway

Pasta salad is a delicious dish that’s easy to prepare with common pantry ingredients. Since boiling the pasta is the only cooking required, making pasta salad isn’t time-consuming. And every time you make pasta salad, you can change the ingredients based on what’s in your pantry.


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