Pasta Salad to Keep Everyone Happy

A while ago there was one of those Facebook quizzes going around, How Hippy Are You?  With our lifestyle and attitudes, I came out at 93% or something - oops!  Funnily enough, we have found it difficult to find our 'tribe', people we gel with, because we aren't as hippy as some and are far more crunchy than others.  It's tricky.  But I honestly don't possess a single piece of tie-dye!  Although I do wear my Birkenstocks until there's thick frost or snow on the ground...

By the same token, we eat salads and have picnics year round, when most sensible people have swapped all things cold for roasting and slow cooking.  One of our easiest meals, perfect to throw together for a work-at-home lunch, is this pasta salad.  Made in large quantities it's a crowd pleaser, perfect for parties, or as it embraces whatever you have in, it's great as a last minute make for unexpected guests, or to make what you do have go further.  Either way it's delicious, and for family meals you can serve everything separately, so everyone just adds in what they want to eat.  A real winner!

  • Pasta, we prefer fusilli - a good handful per person makes this a meal in itself, so reduce accordingly if you plan to use it as part of a buffet.
  • Other things - yep, that vague, see below for suggestions
  • Salad dressing of choice, we usually make a quick vinaigrette, but any is fine, made or bought


1. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions.  When cooked al dente, drain and run cold, running water through the pasta until cold.
2. Whilst the pasta cooks, prepare your other ingredients to approximately the same size (see below), and make your dressing, if doing so.
3. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl or serving dish; or serve all ingredients separately at the table or on the counter, and let everyone make their own versions.
4. Leftover pasta salad can be stored covered in the fridge for a day or two.

Ideas for Add-ins

  • Any leftover vegetables, e.g. roasted veg, chopped
  • Cucumber, diced
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Peppers, diced fresh or roasted, from a jar works too
  • Sugar snap peas or mange touts, quartered
  • Olives, halved
  • Pickled cucumbers/gherkins, roughly chopped
  • Capers
  • Artichokes in oil, chopped
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • Frozen peas, just pop them in boiling water for a minute or so
  • Sweetcorn
  • Any tinned beans
  • Cheddar or other hard cheese, diced
  • Chopped fresh herbs

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