Pasta salad – it’s just one of those things that fits in with everything. Summer BBQ in the backyard? Pasta salad goes great with steak, chicken, or veggie burgers. Having a formal dinner for friends? Pasta salad can fit right in with some of the main courses you toil for hours over.  At my house it’s practically expected that I make a side pasta salad for a roast chicken, and I always whip it out for the official Canadian kick off for summer on July 1st.

Yes, pasta salad is one of those menu items that just make you think spring. Although you can purchase pasta salad in a box now, it’s really not the same as creating your own. By adding fresh veggies and spices to your pasta you’ll be able to achieve a flavour that goes way beyond the box, so here are a few great pasta salad recipes that will have you ready for spring and summer:

Pasta Salad with cherry tomatoes

Jamie Oliver can always be counted on to come up with something delicious, and this pasta salad recipe of his is a complete winner in the side dish department.

Ingredients: 310 g small shell-shaped pasta
3 cloves garlic
255 g yellow cherry tomatoes
255 g red cherry tomatoes
1 handful black olives, pitted
2 tablespoons fresh chives
1 handful fresh basil
½ cucumber
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or to taste
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Throw in the pasta and cloves of garlic, boil until al dente, drain and run under cold water to cool. Put the garlic to one side to use for the dressing. Put the pasta into a bowl. Chop the tomatoes, olives, chives, basil and cucumber into pieces about half the size of the pasta and add to the bowl. Squash the garlic cloves out of their skins and mush in a pestle and mortar. Add the vinegar, oil and seasoning. Drizzle this over the salad, adding a little more seasoning to taste.



Pasta Salad with shrimp

With spinach, beans, and shrimp, this pasta salad is light, healthy, and delicious. From Cooking Light.

Ingredients: 3 cups uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped capers


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Combine juice, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp to pan; cook for 2 minutes or until done. Stir in spinach, cannellini beans, red onion, and 2 tablespoons capers; toss to combine. Add the pasta and juice mixture to shrimp mixture; toss.



Spinach Pasta Salad

Get your greens in the tastiest way possible with this Spinach Pasta Salad recipe from Cooking Light.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup mini farfalle
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped red onion


Cook mini farfalle according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.

Combine olive oil and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add garlic vinaigrette, spinach, and onion to pasta.




Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

This one is a meal in itself, and a great addition to the menu for those bacon lovers out there.

Ingredients: 1 (12 ounce) package uncooked tri-color rotini pasta
10 slices bacon
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons dry ranch salad dressing mix
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 cup milk, or as needed
1 large tomato, chopped
1 (4.25 ounce) can sliced black olives
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook rotini at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain.

Place bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook until evenly brown. Drain and chop.

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, ranch dressing mix, garlic powder, and garlic pepper. Stir in milk until smooth. Place rotini, bacon, tomato, black olives and cheese in bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Cover and chill at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Toss with additional milk if the salad seems a little dry.

The weather might not be quite there yet but that doesn’t mean you can’t start getting ready for spring and summer by serving up a pasta salad. Check out my other salad recipes from this past month including Quiona salads, Greek Salads, and Potato salads.

 Need a helping hand in the kitchen? Check out these kitchen tools to create your own pasta salad:

The rolls-royce of kitchen appliances, the Kenwood Chef Kitchen Machine works with the…

Kenwood pasta roller to create your own pasta for your pasta salads!

Straining is simple with the Oxo good grips colander
Shelly Wutke
Editor TV & Home Theatre
I'm a Vancouver freelancer and tech enthusiast. When I'm not writing you'll find me on my farm with my alpacas, chickens, and honeybees. Visit my website Survivemag