In summers, I usually prefer to make recipes that are very light and fresh. So, I am always on the lookout for making different types of salad at home that can go as sides and a proper meal. Penne pasta salad has always been a popular choice in my opinion when it comes to making something quick and that also tastes delicious. I have been making it will different types of pasta shapes as well depending upon what I have at home.
You can make the perfect meal out of this recipe by just adding some chicken to it. The mayo, olive oil, lemon, tomatoes, and penne together form a wonderful flavor. I usually make it in large quantities to store it for the week. So, I can eat with my meals as sides or just have a quick bite if anyone is hungry. Moreover, it is a perfect side especially for kids to get the nutrition.
Do you know that the word penne means pens in English and it got its name because of its pointy tips? Isn’t it cool?
Well, I have been trying out with some chicken sliders, an egg sandwich, and some grilled chicken. Moreover, I also added as a side to a BBQ once and everyone praised it. So, let’s see the ingredients and the procedure of this healthy and yummy recipe:
How to cook penne pasta?
You might be following all the instructions from the back of the penne pasta box. But, how to take it to the next level? Well, my secret is that I add some salt to the water when I am boiling the pasta. You can also add sea salt or Kosher salt whatever you have available in the kitchen.
Can you boil pasta in milk:
A lot of people boil pasta in milk as it removes the starch from the pasta. But, the pasta also absorbs the milk and can be heavy and creamier. If you want your pasta to be creamier then you can boil it in milk. Also, the pasta in the fridge can get a little gooey so try to eat in 2 days. If you are cooking it in milk, then don’t waste it while you are draining the pasta. Save it for making pasta sauce later as it has absorbed the starch and makes a good creamier texture.
Penne Pasta Salad
- 1 box or packet of penne pasta
- Olive oil ⅔ cup
- Lemon juice 2 tbsp
- Mayonnaise half cup
- Italian dressing 3 tbsp
- A cup of baby tomatoes cut in half
- 1 and a half cup parmesan cheese grated
- Fresh basil 2 tbsp
- Boil the pasta based on the given instructions on the back of the packaging. Drain it and run it under cool water for 2 minutes.
- Take a large bowl and add olive oil, lemon juice, mayonnaise, Italian dressing and mix it nicely.
- Now add the pasta, tomatoes, parmesan, and basil. Mix it well and put it in the refrigerator for 7 to 8 hours. You can also make this pasta a day before and let it cool overnight.
Notes for the recipe:
- Instead of penne pasta, any type of another shape can go for this recipe.
- You can use store brought grated parmesan.
- You can even refrigerate this pasta in advance as the flavors will build up.
- If you have some leftovers, you can use them in the next 5 days.
- You can also add shredded boiled chicken or grilled chicken to make this dish a perfect meal.
Other ingredients you can add for flavor:
You can add baby spinach, asparagus, broccoli, celery, and kidney beans. I do recommend adding some shredded chicken to increase the nutritional value of this dish.
How to double or triple this recipe?
If you have some guests coming over or making it in the holidays then just multiply the ingredients 2x or 3x times based on the quantity you need. It goes perfectly well on big BBQ and feasts with all the family and friends coming over.
What goes with penne pasta salad?
You can serve it with burgers, fried chicken, sandwiches, BBQ chicken, and corn. It almost goes with your most protein diets as penne pasta includes a lot of starch. So, we recommend serving it with fried or grilled chicken.
Should I rinse the pasta with hot or cold water?
After you have boiled the pasta, keep it under cold running water as it will help to hydrate it. It means that the pasta will not stick together and you can achieve the perfect look of the recipe.
Can you make the pasta in advance?
Yes, you can make pasta a day before but there is a procedure to keep it fresh. After the pasta is boiled, add some oil and water to it and store it in a Ziplock bag in the fridge. Do not put it in the refrigerator as the pasta will stick. The next day you can just run the pasta under cold water and it is all ready for the recipe.
Can you freeze penne pasta salad?
No, you should freeze this salad. If it’s possible eat it fresh or just refrigerate it for 4 to 5 days when boiling the pasta in water. With milk, I would recommend 2 days so the pasta does not get too gooey. Freezing will remove all the yummy flavors and if you defrost it all the pasta will get watery due to ice. So, I would recommend refrigerating it all the time and eating it fresh with all the flavors and nutrition it provides.