Pasta salad is one of those easy go-to make-ahead salads that are perfect for a picnic. And the beauty of the pasta salad is there are so many variations that we put together an extensive list of pasta salad recipes here.
We love this chickpea pasta salad with fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes because it is easy to make and full of fresh flavours. It’s a great alternative to stodgy, creamy pasta salads.
Pasta Salad Tips
Yes. And this is the ONLY time you should ever rinse pasta, when you are using it in a cold dish such as pasta salad. Running the pasta under cold water after draining helps stop the cooking process and washes away any unwanted starches – both of which help prevent mushy or gluggy pasta.
The best types of pasta for pasta salads is dried pasta and small shapes, preferably with nooks and crannies for dressings and ingredients to grab on to. Go with spiral type pasta such as fusilli or rotini. Tubular pasta such as mostaccioli, paccheri or penne or even the bow style pasta farfalle.
Yes, you can but make sure you prepare the pasta for storage to prevent it from sticking together. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and while still in the colander, generously coat all of the pasta with olive oil tossing it to make sure all the pieces are separated. Then, store in a zip lock bag or airtight container until ready to use. The olive oil will add a subtle flavour and create a barrier that prevents the pasta from drying and ultimately clumping together. 48 hours would be the max make-ahead time I would recommend for this.
Picnic Tip: Keeping food cold for a picnic is such a consideration we have written an article on just that.
- For a healthier creamier pasta salad, add avocado chunks at the last minute.
- Use slow roasted tomatoes for a a richer flavour which will also form part of the dressing.
- Some slices of roasted red pepper can add mediterranian spin to this salad and boost the dressing flavour as well.
- For a vegan version, substitute feta for vegan feta or leave out all together.
- If you can’t get fresh arugula, baby spinach or any other dark green will work. Just add at the last minute to avoid wilting.