I have a habit of making way too much food when hosting. The upside is I have leftovers for days, which is always a perk after all the work of having a party. For my birthday shindig, I decided I was going to make pulled pork (recipe/walk through forthcoming) and some sides. The pitfall was thinking people love pasta salad as much as I do.
Sooo, I made two pounds of pasta for 20ish friends and family. I received some sweet products from Colavita that I wanted to try out, which made the only real steps cooking the pasta and figuring out what to add in the salad.
I came up with two recipes: a garlicky pasta salad with roasted garlic (did I mention it had garlic?) and a balsamic vinaigrette situation. I made the dressings for both, but you could easily use salad dressing. The veggies and core ingredients were essentially the same and the dressing or sauce was the main differentiator.
Colavita has a roasted garlic olive oil that I used to make a salad dressing. The rule of thumb when making a salad dressing is 3:1 oil:vinegar. So if you add three tablespoons of oil, add one of vinegar. I added in some dried oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a sealed container and shook them like a shake weight infomercial.
The balsamic dressing was similar, but I used balsamic vinegar instead of white vinegar and regular olive oil instead of roasted garlic.
You can add whatever veggies you have or are on sale. I opted for grilled mushrooms, grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red onion, bell pepper and olives. Adding cheese chunks would make your friends adore you. Some friends were vegetarians otherwise I recommend adding slices of grilled sausage. Fresh herbs like basil would put this over the top.
It’s best to chill the pasta salad before serving to your guests.
There you go. Pasta salad recipes are super simple and are a party pleaser. Just don’t make two pounds unless you know everyone is carb loading for a marathon.