We all have a good go-to macaroni salad recipe that we like to make all the time, right? Right! Well, I’d like you to please meet my very own personal “Any Occasion Pasta Salad” recipe. I think that you guys should get better acquainted… I’ve a feeling you may very well become good friends!
Especially if like me, you are (or used to be, rather) a huge fan of KFC’s Creamy Macaroni Salad. I remember that, as a kid, I loved that stuff so much, I could’ve eaten it by the bucketful.
Now, my version isn’t quite as mushy as the model it was based on, but that’s a good thing, if you ask me! My pasta salad has a lot more substance to it; you actually need to chew it before you swallow! Plus, it has so much more goodies in it, too! And of course, this goes without saying, it also happens to be much healthier: this one doesn’t contain any of the nasties or preservatives you’re sure to find in the original…
Finally, it’s made with love, in the comfort of my very own kitchen! Now this simply can’t be beat!
Start by cooking the pasta: bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package; cooking time will depend on the type of pasta you chose to use!
Most people like to use elbows, but personally, I find them somewhat boring. I much prefer to use fusilli, gemelli, farfale or my favorites: shells. The reason why I love shells so much is they make perfect little nests for all the goodies to hide in, so you’re guaranteed that each bite will be filled with yummy stuff! Also, when making cold pasta salad, I like to cook my pasta a little bit past al dente, until it’s really tender, as it becomes much chewier once chilled.
Of course, you remain free to cook yours the way you like it! Once it’s done cooking, rinse the pasta under cold running water completely chilled and set aside to drain.
While your pasta is cooking and draining, take the opportunity to prep your veggies and make the dressing. Making that dressing couldn’t be easier, really: simply combine all the ingredients for in a small bowl and then mix vigorously with a spoon or whisk until everything is well combined.
The choice of using sour cream or Greek yogurt is entirely up to you and will yield extremely similar results, with the sour cream being a tad creamier and not quite as tangy as the yogurt. But both are equally delicious if you ask me.
As for the cayenne pepper, I’m pretty sure that the Colonel didn’t add any to his pasta salad, but I like mine (and most of my food apparently!) to have a bit of a kick to it. If you personally don’t care for heat, feel entirely free to leave it out!
Now all that’s left to do is place the cooked pasta and vegetables in a large mixing bowl, top with the dressing and toss gently until well combined.
You could serve the salad right away if you wanted to, but I strongly suggest that you let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow all those delicious flavors to meld and fully develop.
Also, this salad will keep for up to several days if kept refrigerated in an airtight container; this means you can very well make it ahead of time… And THAT is always a good thing!
- 340g (12oz) dry short pasta of your choice (I used large shells)
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 large dill pickle, (store-bought or homemade) diced
- 3-4 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. When cooked, rinse the pasta under cold running water completely chilled and set aside to drain.
- While the pasta is cooking/draining, prep your veggies and then combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and mix with a spoon or whisk until well combined.
- Put the cooked pasta and vegetables in a large mixing bowl, top with the dressing and toss until well combined.
- You can serve the salad right away, but I strongly suggest that you let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to meld and fully develop.
- This salad will keep for up to several days if kept refrigerated in an airtight container.