We’ve all suffered through them, those limp, soggy excuses for pasta salad that amount to little more than elbow macaroni doused with bottled vinaigrette and tossed with a bag of frozen peas.
But we can do so much better with a dish that has this much potential. All we need is a little inspiration. Pasta, after all, is a delicious blank slate. We just need to start there and layer on flavors and textures, building until we have a robust and exciting salad that deserves to be at a summer gathering.
So let’s begin with the pasta. Elbow macaroni is traditional, but hardly ideal. We want something with lots of ridges, nooks and crannies. Which is to say, something with tons of surface area for trapping dressing. Go with rotini or something similar.
For inspiration, I decided to use a conventional Greek salad. And that means loading up on feta cheese, chopped Kalamata olives, chopped red onion, green bell pepper, some tomatoes and fresh oregano. For a bit of substance, I also added some garlic-butter shrimp. Tie it all together with a sour cream-spiked vinaigrette, and you have a pasta salad to be proud of.