Pasta salad is a crowd favourite, so we thought it high time we added one to our Village Wholefoods recipe collection. This one is a cracker.
The best thing about a Pasta salad is it's versatility. You are only limited by what's in your fridge and pantry. Feel free to use this recipe as a springboard, and make it your own!
When I created this recipe I wanted to tick all the boxes, and I think I've done that. It's a hot weather food in that it's full of crunchy, raw veg and zesty flavours. But it's also comfort food due not only to the starchy, cuddly nature of pasta itself but also the creamy dressing. I even gave it a nod to retro pasta salads of the 1970s and 80s, by adding a little sugar to the dressing. Trust me, it works!
You may notice another quirk in my recipe - there's no uniformity in the sizes I chop the different ingredients. The carrots are finely diced, the tomatoes and cucumber get a medium dicing, the olives are halved and the fresh herbs are coarsely chopped. There is a method to my madness. I like the woodier, fibrous ingredients like carrots cut in smaller pieces so their flavours more readily combine with louder, showier ones. But really, none of it matters. If you've no patience for fine-dicing carrots, go chunky and call it rustic! Or you can even use a potato peeler to make some thin carrot ribbons.
More about the dressing: I use greek yoghurt mixed with mayonnaise. I think it makes for a lighter, more 'grown up' flavour. But sometimes the mood calls for all mayo, or even sour cream. Much like the salad vegetables I included in this recipe, let your mood - and fridge - decide!
300g spiral pasta, cooked and cooled slightly
1 cucumber, med diced
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 cup your choice of salad veg, diced. Some good ones to use are capsicum, carrot, celery, sugar snap peas (sliced thinly)
150g Feta or goats cheese, crumbled or fine diced, OR quartered pieces of bocconcini
¼-½ cup fresh basil leaves, left whole or torn**
¼-½ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup greek yoghurt
½ cup whole egg mayonnaise
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
½ tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
½ tsp caster sugar (optional)
1 tsp tomato powder
1 tsp Italian herbs
Our spiral pasta takes about 10mins to reach al dente, however for a pasta salad it's best to cook it for 1 minute less. Tumble a good glug of olive oil through the pasta as soon as it's drained to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
Set pasta aside and allow it to cool for 30 min before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Chop your veg and put it in a large mixing bowl, reserving a handful of the chopped herbs for garnish. Add your cooked, cooled pasta to the veg.
Whisk dressing ingredients together in a jug, jar or bowl. Add it to the pasta and veg, toss to combine. Add your reserved herbs.
Pasta shouldn't be straight from the fridge cold, just room temp. It’s best to take it out of the fridge 15-30 mins before serving.
** don't use a knife to chop basil if you can avoid it. Like lettuce, it browns when you use metal on it. Use a plastic lettuce knife, or just tear the bigger basil leaves by hand.
If covered properly, the pasta salad keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
PIMP MY RECIPE:
For an easy Vegan alternative, use plant based yoghurt or a lemony cashew cream for the dressing.
Want it gluten free? Simply sub in your favourite gluten free pasta.
Ditch the Mediterranean feel and instead make a Coronation Dressing for the pasta salad! Add some curry powder and mango chutney to mayonnaise for a true celebration of retro. A curry mayonnaise has its roots in the Netherlands, but the addition of chutney will transport you back to high tea in 1950s Britain. Adding cooked, chopped chicken will complete the vibe. And you know what? Sliced hard-boiled eggs would be a fabulous addition to the Coronation version.
Add ham, bacon, tuna or chicken for a hearty, protein-rich version.
Tip: Using Kewpie mayo? No need to add sugar, as Kewpie is pretty sweet already.