Summer is right around the corner, and with it come all the delicious flavors of a traditional American favorite - barbecue. But, there's more to this seasonal classic cooking style than basic meat and vegetables cooked over the coals.
Why not spice up your menu with barbecue pasta salad? This delicious and nutritious entree is easy to customize, with interchangeable ingredients to suit every palate - even picky eaters. And, it's downright tasty, too.
Sound good? Well, you're in the right place.
Whether you're entertaining friends and family or just whipping up a weeknight meal, this recipe is guaranteed to get plenty of compliments. Read on, and get ready to get cooking!
- Summer's Best Barbecue Pasta Salad
- Salad Ingredients
- Dressing Ingredients
- Assembling Your Salad
- Time to Get Creative
- Tips and Techniques for Perfect Pasta Salad
- Delicious Louisiana Crafted Pasta
Summer's Best Barbecue Pasta Salad
One of the best things about this tasty pasta salad recipe is how easily the ingredients can be modified. It's also a fantastic make-ahead option, storing well in the refrigerator for multiple days.
If you're ready to get cooking, it's time to assemble all of your ingredients, as well as an oversized mixing bowl to combine it all in.
- 1/2 pound pasta cooked per package instructions
- 2 cups barbecued protein, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup red onion diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup yellow corn kernels
- Homemade barbecue sauce dressing
- Cilantro for garnish
We recommend one of our specialty shaped Pastas!
- 1/4 cup store-bought barbecue sauce
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Juice from one lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
You should always use the highest quality oil and vinegar that you can afford in dressings. Their flavor will help elevate your dish, and using substandard products will absolutely keep your dish from reaching its full potential.
Assembling Your Salad
Before getting started on the pasta portion of this dish, you should make your dressing and set it aside. This will allow extra time for its flavors to develop.
Then, cook and drain your pasta and add 3/4 of your dressing while the noodles are still warm. Add your protein of choice and vegetables, and stir to coat.
Just before serving, add the remaining 1/4 of your dressing and the cilantro. Taste the salad to ensure it has a balanced flavor with plenty of salt and pepper.
Now, It's Time to Get Creative
Once you've mastered this basic recipe, it's time to get creative!
For example, substitute avocado, mango, and scallions for the original recipe's ingredients for an Asian fusion salad, packed with flavor. You can also change up the dressing, using secret ingredients like sesame oil and hoisin sauce for an extra Asian flare.
For a Hawaiian spin, add a bit of fresh jalapeno and pineapple. Or, just throw in some extra veggies like shredded carrot and cubed cucumber, for an ultra-fresh summer take on the classic.
You can also impart different and unexpected flavors into this dish by marinating your meat before barbequing it. Add a hint of spice with Jamaican jerk seasoning, or choose something with a Cajun zip for a familiar, down-home taste.
If you have picky eaters in the house, the sight of some ingredients, like onion, could be an issue. Try adding them to your dressing and whizzing the whole mix up in your blender for a creamier emulsion with plenty of flavor and no crunchy bits to pick out.
Some people don't care for the taste of cilantro - and, oftentimes, it isn't their fault. For some people, this fresh herb tastes like soap! Substitute parsley for a version that's friendly for all palates.
Tips and Techniques for Perfect Pasta Salad
A wide variety of pasta shapes will work for this recipe, including penne, fusilli, farfalle, and rotini. These pair well with the sauce's texture and will absorb plenty of delicious flavor!
Once you've got the right pasta, the next critical step is to ensure that you cook it perfectly.
Remember, you'll want to start with heavily salted water that is vigorously boiling. Add your pasta, stir, and check its texture often. You should drain it when a perfect 'al dente' texture is reached - and you should not see any white or uncooked areas in the noodle's center.
Don't rinse your pasta to cool it down. This can destroy its texture!
Instead, allow it to drain in a colander, and then partially dress it while still warm. While this technique might be unfamiliar, it's guaranteed to deliver a better tasting dish, as warm pasta will absorb more of your sauce. You can add a bit of reserved dressing just before serving, to ensure a moist and glistening finish.
Once assembled, allow your pasta salad to cool to room temperature on the counter before refrigerating. This can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Allow your salad to rest in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. This will help its flavors to intensify.
Delicious Louisiana Crafted Pasta
Are you ready to turn heads with this delicious barbecue pasta salad? Whether you're cooking for family or hosting, everyone is guaranteed to love this healthy and tasty summertime treat.
In fact, you might want to print a copy or two of the recipe. You're definitely going to get asked for it!
For more pasta recipes, tips for pairing pasta shapes perfectly with their respective sauces, and hot dinner suggestions for your next date night, check out the rest of our blog. And, while you're here, browse our fantastic selection of handmade pasta - the secret ingredient in every successful pasta dish!