It’s hard to beat a bowl of pasta, but in the summer heat, sometimes a cold meal is preferable. Enter pasta salads: the perfect hybrid of a refreshing, light summer salad, but with the comfort of pasta mixed in.
The flavour combinations are endless, but there are a few rules to follow if you want to get them right.
- Cool your pasta before mixing it with the other ingredients. If it’s still warm, you’ll end up with limp lettuce.
- Don’t opt for spaghetti or linguine. Smaller, shorter pasta shapes are best for pasta salads, and if they have nooks and crannies to trap dressings/herbs etc, like fusilli or farfalle, then even better.
- Choose dried pasta over fresh. It keeps its shape better when cold.
When thinking about what to include, consider taking influence from your favourite salads, i.e caesar, caprese, niçoise. You really can mix them up – have fun and experiment with them.
Meanwhile, here are two of my own pasta salad creations, and a favourite of mine from the Riverford recipe catalogue. Enjoy as a tasty evening meal during the warmer months or consider batch cooking and taking as a packed lunch to work or for a picnic.
Tenderstem broccoli, apple and feta pasta salad
I love apple in salads for crunch and sweetness, and it works so well in here with broccoli, fresh parsley, creamy, salty feta cheese and a sweet, mustardy dressing. Once the Tenderstem and pasta are cooked and cooled, the rest is as easy as chopping and mixing. Find the full recipe here.
Greek salad orzo
I love Greek salad, but it’s not really filling enough to enjoy as a main. This one pan recipe has all the classic flavours, but with orzo mixed in, which gives it slight risotto vibes. The orzo is cooked in a tomato sauce with lots of dried oregano, then all the other keys ingredient you’d find in a classic Greek salad are stirred in at the end – red onion, feta, olives, red wine vinegar. This can be enjoyed hot or cold. Find the full recipe here.
Charred courgette, lemon and caper orzo
This Riverford recipe is fresh, summery and light. Griddling courgettes over a high heat lends a smokiness which enhances their natural sweetness. Other flavour highlights in this vegan dish include walnuts, pesto, zesty lemon and a hint of chilli. As with the Greek salad orzo, this can be eaten hot or cold. Find the full recipe here.
Follow @emilyontoast on Instagram for more no-fuss vegetarian recipes.