Picnic Pasta Salad Recipe

When the weather gets too hot to cook, this picnic pasta salad recipe was always a summertime comfort food favorite of myself and my youngest daughter. We used to make a large bowl and throw in all our favorite salad goodies of cold cut meat, cheeses, along with fresh and pickled vegetables. We would be all set for dinner for the next couple nights.

You do not have to use all the exact ingredients listed below. Get creative and add in any of your favorite salad items. Picnic pasta salad is also a great dish for a summer outing or a potluck.

Picnic Pasta Salad served in a large ceramic bowl

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overhead image of colorful Salad

colorful Picnic Salad served in a large bowl

Picnic Pasta Salad Recipe:
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
55 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Picnic Pasta Salad Recipe
Servings: 1 large pasta salad
Picnic Pasta Salad
  • 1 (16-ounce) package pasta of your choice (such as bowtie, corkscrew, penne, or rotini)
  • Grape (small) tomatoes, cut in half
  • Ham, cooked and cubed
  • Hard salami, sliced in strips
  • Red peppers, roasted and sliced in small strips
  • Fresh asparagus
  • Fresh snap peas or snow peas, ends trimmed off
  • Marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped into smaller pieces
  • Green olives, sliced
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Water chestnuts, sliced
  • Havarti cheese, cubed
  • Smoked cheddar cheese, cubed
Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing:
  • 1/2 cups olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and coarsely-ground black pepper to taste
Picnic Pasta Salad Instructions:
  1. Picnic Pasta SaladPrepare pasta according to package directions.  In a colander, rinse the cooked macaroni with cold water, drain briefly so that the macaroni remains moist, and place in a large bowl.  Learn How To Cook Pasta Properly.

  2. In a pan of boiling water, blanch the asparagus and peas for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the peas turn bright green.  Remove from heat and transfer to an ice water bath until cool, and then drain in a colander.  Chop the asparagus and snap/snow peas into bite-size pieces.

  3. Toss together the pasta and all the prepared salad ingredient; set aside.

  4. Prepare the Salad Dressing of your choice (see below). Toss the prepared salad dressing with the pasta salad.

  5. Always serve pasta salads at room temperature so the flavors will really shine.  If you must refrigerate the salad, make sure to return it to room temperature before serving.  The dressing usually soaks into the pasta when store.  So, if serving later, you may need to add a little extra salad dressing right before serving.

  6. Serves many.

Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing Instructions:
  1. If you want an easy store-bought dressing, I recommend Paul Newman's Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing for a nice mild flavor that does not overpower the salad.  Otherwise you can use this delicious recipe below using 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar if you would like to make your own dressing.  Also check out Linda's Balsamic Vinaigrette.

  2. Place the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in the bowl of your blender.  Process until fully combined.  Let stand for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.  Whisk together right before serving.

 Pasta Salad served on a long rectangular dish

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