Epic Pasta Salad: a primer

Pasta Salad.

It can (and should!) be soooooo much more than boring elbow macaroni.

Here is a basic recipe for the pasta salad that I regularly make. It’s something I take to most potlucks and is always a hit! Everything you need to make it is pretty much always in a (reasonably) stocked pantry so you can make it without much notice!

I’ve got pictures for you, but also an actual recipe. If you just want the recipe here it is!


Other delicious things I add sometimes: canned chilled beets, green onions (green and white parts), chunk white tuna, sunflower or chia seeds (just before serving), black beans or chickpeas (rinsed), and radish match sticks.

One edit here: I’ve decided you CAN rinse the pasta–especially if you need it to cool down quickly. The noodles hold the sauce a bit better if you don’t rinse but it works pretty well even if you do.

Now for some pictures of my process.

Chop/dice sweet peppers. Depending on size I use about 8-10 small peppers.


Chop onions and halve cherry/grape tomatoes. I’ve found that even during the off season for tomatoes the small ones usually still have flavor. The Roma and regular sized tomatoes taste like water to me but the tiny ones still taste like tomatoes. Also, NEVER put your tomatoes in the refrigerator–it’ll totally zap their flavor.

If you don’t like onions you can skip them. You shouldn’t do this, but if you have a pansy ass palette or worry about onion breath then I guess you’ll have to leave them out and be miserable about life. It’s Vidalia season! Eat your dang onions!


Here’s what all the vegetables look like all chopped up. I try to get a ratio of about half pasta and half vegetables. If you are making this for your household you can always add another ingredient to stretch the servings and change up the flavors after you serve it the first time.


Pasta combo drained. Pasta combo with vegetables mixed in.


I use a three part mixture of spicy mustard, prepared salad dressing, and mayonnaise. It is possible that you may live in a part of the country where Duke’s mayonnaise is not available. If that is the case I will pray for you. I will also bootleg it to you through the postal service for a nominal fee. You can also make homemade mayonnaise. For the love of god just don’t use any of that *miraclewhip* stuff. Just don’t. As far as the prepared salad dressing goes, I usually use ranch or blue cheese–whatever is handy.


Here it is all mixed up and ready to chill!


Here is a serving shot–

pictured with beets, chia seeds, and homemade croutons on top.

NOTE: If you are using beets you may want to leave them off until serving. They will turn the whole salad a beautiful pink color–which I personally find endearing but others may find weird.




There you have it! My pasta salad primer for how to make rainbow pasta salad.

You will now be the star of your next potluck dinner.

You can thank me later.

2 thoughts on “Epic Pasta Salad: a primer

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