Chilled pasta salad is the perfect make-ahead dish for all of your outdoor meals this summer.
The season is upon us for picnics,outdoor parties, concert tailgates and days by the pool and beach. For these outdoor events we need food that is easy to eat, travels well and is filling. I have the perfect dish that will draw a hungry crowd.
Last month, a group of us went to Raleigh to enjoy a Zac Brown Band concert. We decided we were going to tailgate and that we would each bring something to complete a meal. One couple brought a grill and served grilled sausages and peppers on rolls. Another couple brought a variety of chips and dips. Knowing that I would be traveling and arriving to set up, the last thing I wanted to do was prepare something in the parking lot. I opted to bring a delicious and well-rounded pasta salad. I kept it in the cooler until we arrived, and once the sausages and peppers were done, I just whipped it out and was ready to serve. Best of all, this flavor-packed pasta salad just gets better the longer it sits.
Personally, I think preparing food for people is a way to say, “I care and took the extra step to make something for us.” With this dish, I got to convey that message without having to actually put a lot of time in it! Even so, my friends were impressed with the vibrant colors and personal touch of the pre-made dish.
With the incorporation of pasta, cheese, vegetables, nuts and pesto, this pasta salad is filling and tasty. I have tried it with gluten-free pasta and it held up just as well. In the past I have made my own pesto, but for the sake of a quick, tasty and easy dish, for the tailgate I elected to just buy the pesto and the salad lacked no luster.
This pasta salad is superb all by itself for a quick summer meal or as a covered dish to an outdoor party. So before you buy a bag of chips or sign up to bring sodas, think about serving this easy, make-ahead and filling pasta salad.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAMES STEFIUK