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How to make pasta salad

A pasta salad makes a wonderful lunch by itself and is great as an accompaniment to a barbecue or picnic when feeding a crowd. It is best to use pasta that has been cooked, cooled and refrigerated for a few hours. Most pasta shapes are suitable – penne, fusilli and farfalle all work really well – just be sure to steer away from long pastas such as spaghetti and tagliatelle as they are not easy to mix with the other ingredients. Fresh pasta will not work here either. Forget about pasta salads drowning in mayonnaise and heavy, creamy dressings; they can, and should, make a light, healthy meal that still tastes great.

You can use so many different combinations of ingredients in a pasta salad. Here we give three examples:

Fresh summer vegetable pasta salad

Prepare a combination of tomatoes, red peppers, courgette and finely diced red onion. Mix together and toss with the pasta, dress with a classic mustard vinaigrette and serve.

Green pasta salad

Mix fiery rocket with chopped parsley and chilli and finish with cooked asparagus tips. Season with salt and drizzle over extra virgin olive oil and good quality balsamic vinegar for a healthy green salad.

Pesto pasta salad

Give your pasta salad a real Italian feel with olives, tomatoes, Parmesan and a good spoonful of fresh pesto stirred through at the end.

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