Pasta salad is the perfect dish for any gathering. It's easy to make it ahead of time, and it's almost always a crowd-pleaser. Plus, there are so many different dressings and toppings to include that you almost never have to make the same pasta salad twice. But when it comes to getting it truly perfect, it all comes down to those final minutes of preparation. There are two quick tips to keep in mind: save some dressing for just before it's served, and don't serve it super cold.
While your guests will almost always come back for seconds when it comes to pasta salad, the best way to ensure the dish is a hit is to make sure you're not serving a dry recipe. Even if you load it up with dressing, there's a chance the pasta will absorb all of the liquid depending on how long it ends up sitting in the fridge. Prepping it early is still a must-do in order to make your party planning easier, but don't skip on reserving a little extra dressing for just before showtime.
Dress Your Pasta Salad Twice And Don't Serve It Ice Cold
Pasta is known for absorbing almost any sauce you toss it in; pasta salad is no exception. Next time you're preparing a bowl of salad, make as much dressing as you'll need for the dish, but only toss the pasta in half of it while the pasta is still warm. Then, just before you serve it to guests, toss the pasta with the remaining dressing. This allows the pasta to absorb the dressing's flavor while it sits in the refrigerator but avoids the worry of serving up a dry pasta salad. Plus, using this method means there's no need to double the dressing recipe.
While pasta salads are usually served cold, food that's too cold often has an unappealing bite to it -- especially if you have sensitive teeth. To solve this, remove the pasta salad from the refrigerator 15-30 minutes before serving. This will keep it cold enough for guests, but it won't be too icy. Of course, don't toss in the dressing until the last minute.
Other Tips For The Perfect Pasta Salad
Putting those final touches on the pasta salad means your guests are almost certainly going to rave about the dish, but there are other things you can do during the preparation process that will help make for an even tastier recipe. To start, cook the pasta to al dente. As it sits in the dressing, it will soften up a little bit, so overcooking it from the start might leave you with soggy pasta when it comes time to serve. Plus, keep texture in mind when deciding on ingredients. Pasta is soft, so adding a hint of crunch, such as with bacon or crunchy cauliflower, will give the dish varying textures that will come together nicely.
While some pasta salad recipes only call for a mayonnaise base, cut that rich, fatty flavor with a little plain Greek yogurt or sour cream; it adds a nice balance to any dressing base. Season the dressing, too, with sea salt and a little pepper. And if your guests are alright with some spice, chop up some fresh or pickled jalapeños or canned chipotle peppers for a subtle kick.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.