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Thread: Pasta salad tips anyone?

  1. #1

    Unhappy Pasta salad tips anyone?

    I love all types of pasta salads but I never can seem to make them without them becoming gummy or thick once refrigerated. This goes for both the oil-based dressing ones and the fat-based (mayo) ones, although the oil-based ones are usually worse.

    Maybe I am just not destined to make pasta salad!

    Anyone have any tips on how to minimize the pasta soaking up the dressing while refrigerated? Or any other tips for pasta salad success?

    Thanks in advance for the help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Can't help, but glad you asked!! The same thing happened to me the other night--I made the Artichoke Pasta Salad (CL 4/99) and the next day when I had it for lunch, it had almost no dressing on it!

    Wish I could help!! Looking forward to hearing others advice.

  3. #3
    I don't think you can avoid having pasta, which is a porous wheat product, soak up a liquid in which it's sitting. Only way to avoid it is to store the dressing separately from the pasta and dress it just before you serve it. Personally I LIKE having the dressing soak in--gives it a lot more flavor. But if you want to maintain an al dente quality to the pasta and avoid too much dressing, then wait to dress it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Oh, I LOVE the Artichoke Pasta salad! I usually make about 1 1/2 times the dressing and keep it separate from everything else. In fact, I am making it tonight for a get - together tomorrow.

    When I make the regular pasta salad, I usually mix 1/2 of the dressing in when I make it and then drizzle more on before serving and mix it in. If it's something that I am going to keep in the refridgerater for awhile, I will just drizzle and mix in a little more dressing iinto a single portion to moisten it up a little.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Un-American NY
    Also, are you thoroughly rinsing off the excess starch with cold water and draining thoroughly after the pasta is cooked?


  6. #6
    I liked the "technique" for dressing the orzo-bell pepper salad from the June CL- it's basically what ChelleD describes above and it worked pretty well. You put half the dressing on the warm pasta, let it cool completely and toss with the rest of the dressing, then chill for an hour. The warm pasta absorbs a lot of flavor, but adding more dressing an hour before serving means the salad hasn't soaked everything up by the time you eat it. That said, 24 hours later, the pasta had absorbed most of the dressing.

    Storing some dressing separately and tossing a bit more in each time you serve should help. As for the pasta being gummy- be sure you don't overcook it- I've found that overcooked pasta is just mushy and yucky in chilled salads. As Bob said, rinsing after you drain the pasta helps to remove starch; it also prevents the pasta from continuing to cook and soften.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Rensselaer, NY
    Originally posted by Chelle D

    When I make the regular pasta salad, I usually mix 1/2 of the dressing in when I make it and then drizzle more on before serving and mix it in.
    That's what I was going to suggest as I do that when I make pasta salad. That way the pasta can absorb some of the flavor from the dressing, but you don't end up with a dry salad.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Indianapolis, IN
    It almost sounds like part of the problem you're describing is with the dressing itself. Olive oil will solidify at refrigerator temperatures, as will some other oild. If you're using a dressing that has oils that solidify, then that may be part of the problem you're seeing. If you let the pasta salad warm back up to room temperature, the oil will liquify and you won't be able to taste any difference.

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