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Summer pasta salad recipes for cookouts, parties and picnics + pasta guide

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Intro: Summer pasta salad recipes are among the easiest, best-tasting and most fun -- and did I mention easy -salad recipes around. While usually people think of vegetable, fruit or lettuce salads when they imagine cold salad recipes for summer barbecues and cookouts, a fresh macaroni or bow tie pasta salad fits the bill nicely.

The Fun and Tasty Virtues of the Cold Summer Pasta Salad

I've often talked about growing up in a family that owned a diner restaurant. Naturally, this held sway over what I knew of as pasta salads. A classic pasta salad recipe for me in those days was the macaroni salad recipe with plenty of mayo, diced carrots and celery plus a little paprika sprinkled on top.

I have come to discover that this is akin to the Hawaiian pasta salad recipe, although to me it was just cold macaroni salad served as a side dish for a burger, also known as a hamburger regular in Lakey's Cafe speak. A hamburger deluxe on the other hand included fries.

Summer macaroni pasta salad recipes like this one turned out also to be an excellent choice for our family if we needed some summer salads for cookouts, parties, picnics or just a plain sit-in-the-backyard-cuz-you're-tired-of-eating-indoors salad. That the lowly macaroni salad has become one of the most common summer salads for a crowd is not lost on this diner girl, who has since discovered the finer points of making pasta salad dressing with Italian dressing instead of mayo.

Cold Homemade Pasta Salad Recipes for All Occasions

That said, this actually speaks to why summer pasta salad recipes count among the most sought after anywhere. If you ask yourself, "What goes in a pasta salad?" the ingredients list for said cold summer concoction is as varied as the vegetables of summer that are growing in your garden right now.

Summer pasta salads can be decadent and creamy, quick, healthy, good enough for your kids to love and even a few picky grown-ups. The best summer salads work as side salads or even as lunch or dinner. This is particularly true if you're cooking up a summer picnic salad. Just toss some rolls, a few pieces of sliced fruit and some chilled wine into your picnic basket along with your summer pasta salad recipe, and you've got lunch.

How to Make Pasta Salad Recipes With All the Fixin's

I learned about making pasta salad recipes by working around cooks all my life, but a fresh summer salad recipe in which noodles function as the main ingredient aren't hard to make. Below, you'll find the recipes for 21 summer pasta salad recipes.

You'll learn how to make pasta salads with mayo or Italian dressing as well as with pesto, and you'll get samples of some divine and easy summer salads recipes. If you need some summer salads for cookouts, chances are you'll find one in these fun and easy pasta salad recipes.

Summer Pasta Salads for Cookouts, Barbecues, and Parties

If you're not sure about the kind of noodles you should use when making your pasta salad dish, click through the slide show. You'll get ideas. You'll also get pictures of noodles so if a recipe calls for an exotic bit of macaroni you've never heard of, you can look it up in the pasta guide and see what it looks like.

Finally, you can be sure that these are excellent recipes. They're garnered from the likes of the Food Network, All Recipes, the Pioneer Woman and Taste of Home as well as some smaller sites that may be low on fame meter but high on the list of delicious pasta salad recipes list.

Bon Appetit!

Summer Pasta Salads Recipes List:

Pesto pasta salad recipe

Mediterranean pasta salad with bow tie pasta

Delicious caprese pasta salad

Simple taco pasta salad

Hawaiian pasta salad

Salmon pasta salad with cucumbers

Southwest pasta salad

Ham pasta salad with broccoli

Pepperoni, broccoli caesar pasta salad

Chicken pasta salad recipe

Greek Pasta Salad with Shrimp, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Peppers, and Feta

Cheddar broccoli pasta salad with tri-colored cork screw pasta

Spicy cucumber pasta salad with linguine

Spaghetti pasta salad with olives, tomatoes, avocado and mozzarella

Seafood pasta salad with crab and crawfish

Mexican pasta salad recipe with spiral or penne pasta

Chicken Parmesan Suddenly Salads recipe

Greek pasta salad recipe with feta and Kalamata olives

Tuna pasta salad recipe with dill

Summer cheese tortellini pasta salad with chicken, sweet onions, mayo and red wine vinegar

To make the bacon cheddar ranch pasta salad in the picture that accompanies this article, click here.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Angel Hair or Capellini
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Angel Hair or Capellini Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Angel Hair or Capellini

Capellini or angel hair pasta is a type of pasta that looks a lot like very skinny spaghetti. It's great with pasta salad recipes that you want to be lighter in feeling, such as a capellini salad with some tomatoes and a bit of basil.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Linguine
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Linguine Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Linguine

Linguine as resembles spaghetti and fettuccine in that it's a long pasta. It's wider and flatter than spaghetti, but not as wide as fettuccine. You can substitute this noodle in a spaghetti pasta salad recipe if you run out of sketty.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Fettuccine
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Fettuccine Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Fettuccine

Fettuccine pasta noodles make up one of my favorite dishes, fettuccine alfredo, although they are excellent noodles for just about anything. Because of their long, flat shape, I've found they hold up well in all different kinds of salad.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Penne
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Penne Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Penne

Penne pasta reminds me of longer, straighter, fatter macaroni noodles and very often, I'll make macaroni dishes with this type of pasta instead of the smaller elbow mac.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Macaroni
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Macaroni Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Macaroni

Where would we be without elbow macaroni? This is the staple noodle for dishes like Hawaiian pasta salad recipes and of course, mac and cheese dishes of all sorts. It's also my noodle of choice for classic macaroni salad pasta with mayo.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Campanelle
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Campanelle Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Campanelle

Campanelle pasta resembles corkscrew pasta that's coming unraveled. I like to mix this kind of pasta with other kinds to give my summer pasta salad recipes a bit of a variety. For example, mix this with some tortellini for a cold salad that also visually enticing.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Ravioli
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Ravioli Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Ravioli

You don't often hear of ravioli being a noodle for pasta salad recipes, but I find it's an excellent substitute for dishes calling for tortellini noodles. It's also a good noodle to mix with tortellini pasta salads, again for the visual variety.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Rotini or Corkscrew
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Rotini or Corkscrew Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Rotini or Corkscrew

Rotini or corkscrew pasta is one of the prettiest pastas around, particularly if you get the kind that mixes flavored pastas like spinach pasta. It makes a fun pasta salad recipe for cold salads like pepperoni salad.

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Tortellini
Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Tortellini Wikipedia Commons

Types of Pasta for Pasta Salad Tortellini

Tortellini counts among my all-time favorite stuffed pastas, and it's a go-to ingredient for me for many a summer pasta salad recipe. Tortellini can get spendy due to its stuff status, so I usually mix it with corkscrew pasta to cut costs and add visual variety to the summer salads I make.

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