Discover the perfect ingredients to pair with pasta salad! From vegetables and proteins to dressings and cheeses, learn what goes with pasta salad in this guide.
Pasta salad is a versatile and easy-to-make dish that is perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch or a side dish for a summer barbecue, pasta salad is an excellent choice. But what really makes pasta salad stand out is the variety of ingredients you can use to create a unique and delicious dish.
In this article, we’ll explore the different types of ingredients that pair well with pasta salad and provide tips on how to create the perfect flavor profile. So, whether you’re a pasta salad pro or new to the dish, read on to discover what goes with pasta salad.
Adding vegetables to pasta salad is an excellent way to create a healthy and flavorful dish. Not only do vegetables add a pop of color, but they also provide a variety of vitamins and nutrients. Some of the best vegetables to use in pasta salad include:
Tomatoes are a classic ingredient that pairs well with pasta salad. They are juicy and sweet, and their acidity helps to balance out the flavors in the dish. Cherry tomatoes are an excellent choice for pasta salad, as they hold their shape well and add a burst of flavor with each bite.
Cucumbers are another great vegetable to use in pasta salad. They are refreshing and add a nice crunch to the dish. Be sure to remove the seeds before adding them to the salad to avoid excess moisture.
Bell peppers come in a variety of colors and add a sweet and crunchy texture to pasta salad. They are also high in vitamin C, making them a healthy addition to the dish.
To incorporate these vegetables into your pasta salad, simply chop them into bite-sized pieces and mix them in with the pasta. Alternatively, you can roast or grill them for added depth of flavor.
Adding protein to your pasta salad is an excellent way to make it more filling and satisfying. It also helps to balance out the carbohydrates in the pasta. Here are some great proteins to use in pasta salad:
Grilled chicken is a classic protein to use in pasta salad. It adds a smoky flavor and pairs well with a variety of dressings. To grill the chicken, marinate it in your favorite seasoning and cook it on the grill until it’s fully cooked.
Tuna is another great protein choice for pasta salad. It’s flavorful and adds a nice texture to the dish. Be sure to use canned tuna that is packed in water, not oil, to keep the dish light and healthy.
To incorporate the protein into your pasta salad, simply add it to the mix after cooking. Be sure to season it with salt and pepper to enhance the flavor.
Shrimp is another great protein to use in pasta salad, especially for seafood lovers. It’s light, flavorful, and cooks quickly. To cook shrimp, simply sauté it in a pan with garlic, salt, and pepper until it’s pink and fully cooked.
For a vegetarian-friendly protein option, chickpeas are a great choice. They add a nutty flavor and a creamy texture to the dish. Be sure to rinse and drain the canned chickpeas before adding them to the pasta salad.
Cooking and seasoning your protein is an essential step in creating a flavorful pasta salad. Be sure to use the right seasoning to complement the protein and the other ingredients in the salad. For example, if you’re using chicken, try marinating it in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs like thyme or oregano.
Choosing the right dressing is key to creating a delicious pasta salad. The dressing helps to tie all the ingredients together and provides the dish with its signature flavor. Here are some popular dressings that go well with pasta salad:
Italian dressing is a classic choice for pasta salad. It’s tangy and savory, and the herbs in the dressing pair well with the pasta and vegetables. You can use store-bought Italian dressing or make your own by combining olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, and Italian seasoning.
For a creamier option, ranch dressing is a great choice. It pairs well with chicken or bacon in the pasta salad and adds a tangy flavor. You can use store-bought ranch dressing or make your own by combining mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, garlic, and herbs like dill or parsley.
Balsamic vinaigrette is a sweet and tangy dressing that complements the flavors in pasta salad. It’s perfect for salads that include fruit or nuts, as the dressing enhances their natural sweetness. You can use store-bought balsamic vinaigrette or make your own by combining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and garlic.
Making your own dressing is a great way to customize the flavor of your pasta salad. Experiment with different ingredients and ratios to find the perfect dressing for your dish.
Adding cheese to your pasta salad is a great way to add creaminess and depth of flavor to the dish. Here are some great cheese options to consider:
Feta cheese is a popular choice for pasta salad. It’s tangy and salty, and its crumbly texture adds a nice contrast to the soft pasta. Be sure to use high-quality feta cheese, as lower quality options can be overly salty.
Parmesan cheese is another excellent choice for pasta salad. Its nutty flavor pairs well with a variety of dressings, and its hard texture makes it easy to grate and mix into the dish.
Mozzarella cheese is a mild and creamy cheese that pairs well with a variety of vegetables. It’s also an excellent choice for pasta salad because it doesn’t overpower the other flavors in the dish.
To incorporate cheese into your pasta salad, simply crumble or grate it and mix it into the pasta. Be sure to choose a cheese that complements the other ingredients in your dish.
In addition to vegetables, proteins, and cheese, there are many other ingredients you can add to pasta salad to create a unique and flavorful dish. Here are some other great options to consider:
Adding nuts to your pasta salad is a great way to add crunch and texture to the dish. Some great options include walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts.
Fresh herbs are an excellent way to add a pop of flavor to pasta salad. Some great options include parsley, basil, and dill. Be sure to chop the herbs finely before adding them to the dish.
Adding fruit to pasta salad is a great way to add sweetness and balance out the acidity in the dish. Some great options include strawberries, blueberries, and mangoes.
To balance the flavors and textures in your pasta salad, be sure to vary the ingredients you use. Mix and match vegetables, proteins, and other additions to create a unique and flavorful dish. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different dressings and seasonings to find the perfect flavor profile for your pasta salad.
In conclusion, pasta salad is a versatile and delicious dish that can be customized to your liking. By adding vegetables, proteins, cheese, and other ingredients, you can create a unique and flavorful dish that is sure to impress. At Buckingham Smokehouse, we believe in using only the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients to create our signature smoked meats, seafood, and cheeses. So, whether you’re looking to indulge in our tangy cheddar cheese or our savory beef brisket, we’re here to help you create the perfect pasta salad.