Pasta Salads

Pasta salads are excellent side dishes for potlucks, barbecues, weddings, and picnics. Done well, they can be beautiful and flavorful. Additionally, they can be relatively easy and inexpensive to make. Each of the recipes below will serve approximately 6 as a side, or 4 as a main course. For more guests, increase volume accordingly.

Farfalle and Portobello Salad

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Bring 32 oz of water to a rolling stove-top boil. Add salt, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and Farfalle. Stir every 4-5 minutes for a total of no more than 12 minutes. 

Place garlic cloves into the oven for 8-10 minutes, on any oven safe surface. 

4. While your pasta boils and your garlic roasts, chop mushrooms into pieces no larger than 1 inch squares. On the stove-top, grill the mushrooms with the balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp of water. 

5. On your stove-top, grill your mushrooms with the balsamic vinegar and cool in refrigerator 5-7 minutes. 

6. Mix mushrooms and Pecorino with olive or mushroom oil (I frequently use porcini or truffle oil, which adds a really nice earthy flavor). 

7. Check pasta for softness, and pour into a colander. Rinse with cold water until cool. Pour the pasta into a container and mix with mushroom and oil mixture. 

8. Top with pine nuts and roasted garlic and serve or refrigerate.

Traditional Pasta Salad

Bring water to a rolling boil. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp salt. Add pasta and stir. Stir every 4-5 minutes until soft.

2. First slice your onions. You will boil them in a mesh colander with your pasta for 1 minute and rinse with cool water. Next, cube your cheese and dice your tomatoes. Slice your spinach or basil into strips.

3. Drain your pasta and rinse with cold water until cool. Put in bowl and mix in either the Italian dressing or the olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic powder, dried basil and oregano.

4. Add the vegetables, cheddar and grate the pecorino or Parmesan on top.

5. Pour into serving dish, garnish and serve.

Substitutions: Other great additions include roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, and olives. For meat, try pepperoni, cubed dry Italian sausage, or salami.

Orzo and Feta Salad


Orzo is small pasta that resembles beige colored rice. It is commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine, especially Greek. Many of the ingredients listed are typical in Greek cooking. When possible, purchasing P.D.O. (protected origin) products can help guarantee the quality of the ingredients you use. Specifically, the differences between authentic Feta and Calamata Olives and their American can be vast. American Feta is commonly produced by bleaching cow’s milk cheddar, not even using the sheep/goat’s milk mix typical of Greek P.D.O. Feta. The flavor Calamata Olives grown in California are affected by differences in terrior, harvesting, and processing. Unless you are familiar with the brand you use and its particular flavor profile, opt for the original.

Substitutions: Other great pairings are spinach, artichokes in oil, sun dried tomatoes in oil and cherry tomatoes. Particularly, artichokes are especially popular.

1. Bring broth to a boil. Add orzo pasta with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp salt. Stir every 5 minutes until the pasta is soft.

2. Meanwhile, dice the bell peppers into pieces approximately ½ inch and slice the red onion into thin strips.

3. Roast the garlic by placing it in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  

4. Add the bell peppers, red onion, roasted garlic, and oregano into the olive oil.  

5. Dice the feta into cubes.  

6. When the pasta is done, drain in mesh colander and rinse with cold water. Pour into bowl and mix all ingredients. 

 7. Place in serving dish and garnish.