3 Make-Ahead Pasta Salads That Are Perfect for Summer Potlucks

Going to a potluck picnic and racking your brain to think of what to bring? We’ve got the perfect solution for you with a perfect pasta salad— THREE, in fact! The classic cook-out side dish might seem like it would be boring and bland, but trust us; the three variations coming to you today blow any pasta salad you’ve had before out of the water. Whether you prefer caprese flavors, summer vegetables, or even BACON, there’s a twist here you’re going to love. The Domestic Geek shows us how to make them.

CAPRESE PASTA SALAD
Prep Time: 20 minutes

You’ll Need
– 1 pound orecchiette pasta
– ½ cup pesto sauce
– 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 1 cup small mozzarella balls
– 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
– 4 to 6 basil leaves, chopped

How To

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Toss it with the pesto sauce and balsamic vinegar until it’s evenly coated.
  3. Add the small mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and basil leaves. Toss gently until the salad is well-combined.
  4. Enjoy immediately, or store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

BLT Pasta Salad
Prep Time: 30 minutes

You’ll Need
– 1 pound farfalle pasta
– 4 to 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
– 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
– 2 cups romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
– ½ red onion, finely diced
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– ½ tablespoon dried parsley
– ½ teaspoon dried oregano
– ½ teaspoon dried basil
– Salt and pepper, to taste

How To

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. In the meantime, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until it becomes crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.
  3. In a small bowl, make the Italian dressing by whisking together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, oregano and basil.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, bacon, tomato, lettuce, red onion and dressing. Toss until well-combined. This salad is best dressed just before serving. If you’re making it in advance, simply store the dressing separately and toss it 10 minutes before enjoying. This pasta salad can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

SUMMER VEGETABLE PASTA SALAD
Prep Time: 30 minutes

You’ll Need
– 1 pound rotini pasta
– ½ pound green beans, trimmed and halved
– 1 summer squash, sliced
– 1 zucchini, sliced
– 1 red bell pepper, diced
– 1 cup corn, fresh
– ½ red onion, finely sliced
– ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
– 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
– Salt and pepper, to taste

How To

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. In a steamer basket, gently steam the green beans until they are tender crisp. Run under cold water.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the green beans, summer squash, zucchini, bell pepper, corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion and parsley.
  4. In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the dressing over salad and toss to coat. Store pasta salad in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Each salad serves eight people, making it perfect for potlucks, especially since they’re easy to adjust for larger or smaller crowds. Which one do you want to try first? Do you have any go-to pasta salad recipes of your own?