As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad Recipe

As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad

As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad Recipe
Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes | Servings: 4


As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad
As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad

The As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad is a versatile and colorful dish that allows for creativity and personal preference to shine through. This recipe is perfect for those who love to mix and match ingredients based on what's available in their pantry or what's in season. It's a delightful dish that can serve as a side or a main course, making it a staple for picnics, potlucks, and everyday meals.


The concept of pasta salad is believed to have originated from Italy, evolving from simple pasta dishes that were enjoyed cold with fresh vegetables and herbs. Over time, as pasta became a global staple, various cultures introduced their own versions of pasta salad, incorporating local ingredients and dressings. The As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad is a modern take on this classic dish, emphasizing flexibility and personal taste.


Choose 3 of the following vegetables

How to prepare

  1. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. Add the chopped onion and fresh vegetables. If preferred, steam or stir-fry the vegetables for 3–5 minutes before adding them to the pasta.
  3. Add the salad dressing.
  4. Mix everything well.


  • Mediterranean Style: Add olives, feta cheese, and a dressing made with olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs.
  • Asian Twist: Use a sesame ginger dressing, add edamame and shredded cabbage, and top with sesame seeds.
  • Mexican Fiesta: Include black beans, corn, cilantro, and a lime-cilantro dressing.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your pasta salad is flavorful and satisfying, consider these tips:

- Use a variety of colors and textures with your vegetable choices to make the dish visually appealing.

- Cook the pasta al dente to prevent it from becoming mushy when mixed with the dressing and vegetables.

- Cool the pasta under cold water after cooking to stop the cooking process and keep it firm.

- Allow the salad to marinate for at least an hour before serving to enhance the flavors.

Serving Suggestions

This pasta salad can be served as a main dish for a light lunch or as a side dish with grilled meats or sandwiches. It's also perfect for serving at room temperature, making it ideal for outdoor events and picnics.

Cooking Techniques

For a more flavorful dish, consider grilling or roasting the vegetables before adding them to the salad. This can add depth to the flavor profile and a different texture to the dish.

Ingredient Substitutions

Gluten-free pasta can be used for those with gluten sensitivities.

- For a lower-carb option, zucchini noodles (zoodles) can replace traditional pasta.

- Greek yogurt or avocado can be used as a creamy base for the dressing for those avoiding traditional salad dressings.

Make Ahead Tips

This pasta salad can be made up to a day in advance. If making ahead, consider adding the dressing just before serving to prevent the pasta from absorbing all of it and becoming dry.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the pasta salad in a large, colorful bowl to highlight the variety of vegetables. Garnish with fresh herbs or edible flowers for an extra touch of elegance.

Pairing Recommendations

This pasta salad pairs well with light, crisp white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Rosé. For non-alcoholic options, a sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus complements the dish nicely.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This dish is best enjoyed cold or at room temperature, so reheating is not necessary.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A standard serving of As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad, using low-fat dressing and a mix of the suggested vegetables, contains approximately 200-250 calories. This can vary with the type of pasta and the quantity and type of vegetables and additional proteins used.


A serving of As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad primarily provides carbohydrates, with the pasta being the main source. Depending on the type of pasta used (whole wheat, gluten-free, etc.), a serving can contain approximately 40-45 grams of carbohydrates. The vegetables add minimal carbohydrates but increase the fiber content, beneficial for digestion.


The fat content in this pasta salad largely comes from the salad dressing used. Opting for a low-fat dressing can keep the fat content low, approximately 5-10 grams per serving. Including vegetables like avocados or using dressings made with healthy fats (olive oil-based) can provide a good source of monounsaturated fats.


Protein content in the As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad can vary based on the added ingredients. The base recipe is relatively low in protein; however, adding ingredients like cheese, nuts, or grilled chicken can increase the protein content significantly. A serving could provide anywhere from 5 to 20 grams of protein, depending on these additions.

Vitamins and minerals

The variety of vegetables recommended for this salad ensures a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Tomatoes and red peppers are high in vitamin C, carrots provide vitamin A, and leafy greens can add iron and calcium to the dish. The nutritional profile will vary based on the chosen vegetables but expect a serving to be rich in several essential nutrients.


Common allergens in this recipe could include gluten (from the pasta) and soy (from some salad dressings). However, gluten-free pasta and soy-free dressings can be used as alternatives to make this dish suitable for those with these specific dietary restrictions.


Overall, the As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad is a balanced dish that can be adjusted to meet various nutritional needs. It's high in carbohydrates and can be a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The protein and fat content can be easily adjusted by adding or substituting ingredients.


The As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad is a versatile, nutritious, and colorful dish that can be tailored to suit any taste or dietary need. With its simple preparation and wide appeal, it's a perfect addition to any meal, gathering, or event.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the thrill of stumbling upon this recipe for the first time. It was a warm summer day, and I had been invited to a potluck picnic with some friends. I wanted to bring something different, something that would stand out amongst the usual potato salads and fruit trays. That's when I remembered my dear friend, Mrs. Jenkins, mentioning a pasta salad recipe that she had picked up during her travels in Italy. She called it "As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad" because you could customize it with any ingredients you desired.

I immediately called Mrs. Jenkins and begged her for the recipe. She chuckled and told me that it was a family secret, passed down from generation to generation. But she couldn't resist my enthusiasm and agreed to share it with me.

The ingredients were simple enough: cooked pasta of your choice, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, black olives, feta cheese, and a homemade vinaigrette dressing. But the magic was in the proportions and the combination of flavors. Mrs. Jenkins explained that the key was to let the salad marinate in the dressing for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.

I followed her instructions diligently, chopping the vegetables and mixing them with the cooked pasta. The vinaigrette dressing was a mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and Italian seasoning. As I poured it over the salad and gave it a good toss, I could already smell the fragrant herbs and tangy vinegar.

I let the salad sit in the fridge for an hour, periodically checking on it and giving it a gentle stir. When it was time to serve, I sprinkled some crumbled feta cheese on top for an extra kick of flavor.

At the potluck picnic, the As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad was a hit. People raved about the fresh ingredients, the zesty dressing, and the versatility of the dish. Some added grilled chicken or shrimp to their portion, while others kept it simple with just the vegetables and cheese. It was a crowd-pleaser, and I basked in the compliments and requests for the recipe.

From that day on, the As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad became a staple in my kitchen. I made it for family gatherings, picnics, and even packed it for work lunches. It was a versatile dish that could be customized to suit anyone's taste preferences. I experimented with different combinations of vegetables, added protein like grilled tofu or chickpeas, and even switched up the dressing with lemon vinaigrette or avocado ranch.

Over the years, I shared the recipe with friends, neighbors, and even strangers who asked for it after tasting it at a potluck. Each time I made the salad, I thought of Mrs. Jenkins and how her simple recipe had brought so much joy and deliciousness into my life.

As I grew older, the As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad became a legacy that I passed down to my children and grandchildren. They too fell in love with the dish, each adding their own twist to make it their own. And just like Mrs. Jenkins had shared the recipe with me, I shared it with them, hoping that they would continue the tradition and spread the joy of a good homemade meal.

As I sit here reflecting on the journey of discovering the As-You-Like-It Pasta Salad, I am filled with gratitude for the simple pleasures of cooking and sharing a meal with loved ones. The recipe may have originated from Mrs. Jenkins, but it has now become a part of my own culinary repertoire, a reminder of the joy of stumbling upon something unexpected and delicious. And for that, I am forever thankful.


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