A big bowl of pasta salad is a temptation I always give into at summer gatherings. I usually end up creating a main course from a dish that was intended as a mere side. But for those of you who love piling on the pasta as much me, fret no more because despite what others may say, you can make pasta salad the star of a meal—one that is great for a light summer supper with enough leftovers for lunch the next day.
The key to bringing this dish to the dinner table is making the meal substantial enough to stand on it’s own. An easy way to do this is to add meat. Shrimp and chicken work well in many recipes because they taste just as good cold as they do warm. For a vegetarian option, consider including tofu or hearty vegetables such as mushrooms, artichokes or beans.
As you would with the side, stick to your basic pasta salad rules. Be sure to cook the pasta al dente so it will hold its shape and remember that preparing the salad 24 hours in advance of eating it will allow all the flavors to properly marry. Here are a few recipes to get you started—but do experiment with different combinations of pasta, veggies and dressings. Pasta salad is not only a delicious dish, it's also a forgiving one, so be bold in your choice of ingredients.
-By Emily Arno