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The Best Pasta Salad Recipe

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Pasta salad is a versatile and delicious dish that’s perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a picnic, potluck, or a simple family dinner. This recipe combines colorful vegetables, feta cheese, and a tangy homemade dressing to create a refreshing and flavorful salad. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the ingredients, instructions, and tips for making the best pasta salad. Additionally, we’ll provide variations and address frequently asked questions to ensure you achieve the best results.

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Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 12 oz (about 340g) pasta of your choice (such as fusilli, rotini, or penne)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Step 1: Cook the Pasta

  1. Boil Water: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cook Pasta: Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool the pasta.

Step 2: Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Chop Vegetables: While the pasta is cooking, halve the cherry tomatoes, dice the cucumber, red bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper, and finely chop the red onion.
  2. Slice Olives: Slice the black olives.

Step 3: Make the Dressing

  1. Combine Ingredients: In a small bowl or jar, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  2. Mix Well: Whisk or shake well until the dressing is emulsified and all ingredients are well combined.

Step 4: Assemble the Salad

  1. Mix Salad: In a large bowl, combine the cooked and cooled pasta, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red onion, black olives, and crumbled feta cheese.
  2. Add Dressing: Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss gently to coat all the ingredients evenly.

Step 5: Chill and Serve

  1. Chill: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  2. Serve: Before serving, give the salad a gentle toss and sprinkle with fresh parsley, if using. Enjoy!

Cooking Notes and Variations

Cooking Notes

  • Pasta: Rinse the pasta under cold water after cooking to stop the cooking process and prevent it from becoming mushy.
  • Vegetables: Feel free to add or substitute other vegetables based on your preference, such as carrots, celery, or green bell peppers.

Variations

  1. Protein Addition: Add grilled chicken, shrimp, or chickpeas for added protein.
  2. Cheese Variation: Substitute feta cheese with mozzarella balls, cheddar cubes, or goat cheese for a different flavor.
  3. Herb Variation: Use fresh basil, dill, or cilantro instead of parsley for a different herb flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I make this pasta salad ahead of time?

A: Yes, pasta salad can be made a day in advance. Store it in the refrigerator and toss it gently before serving to redistribute the dressing.

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Q2: How do I store leftovers?

A: Store any leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Q3: Can I use a different type of vinegar?

A: Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar for a different flavor profile.

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Q4: What can I serve with pasta salad?

A: Pasta salad pairs well with grilled meats, sandwiches, or as part of a larger picnic or potluck spread.

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Q5: Can I make this salad gluten-free?

A: Yes, simply use gluten-free pasta to make this salad gluten-free.

The Best Pasta Salad is a versatile and delicious dish that’s perfect for any meal or occasion. With its combination of colorful vegetables, feta cheese, and a tangy homemade dressing, it’s sure to be a hit with family and friends. Follow these simple steps and tips to create a refreshing and flavorful pasta salad that everyone will love. Serve this delightful salad chilled for a refreshing treat!

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Whether you’re looking for a quick side dish, a comforting family meal, or a contribution to a potluck, this Best Pasta Salad recipe is an excellent choice. Enjoy the bright flavors and the ease of preparation, and feel free to experiment with different variations to make this recipe your own.