Pasta Salads to Swoon Over (No, Really)


When was the last time a pasta salad made you swoon?

Mediocre ones abound. You can find them — floppy farfalle studded with red pepper and corn — at barbecues and potlucks, all summer long.

But a gorgeous mix of well-seasoned vegetables and al dente pasta that’s glistening with good olive oil, citrus and herbs? That’s rarer than a perfectly grilled steak (which you might even ignore should a truly excellent pasta salad appear on your plate).

Before pasta salads hit the supermarket salad bar circuit, they were glamorous things.

According to the food historian Betty Fussell, the pasta salad craze began right here in The New York Times in 1978. That was when Craig Claiborne, the food editor, featured a recipe for Cold Pasta New Orleans Style that adorned cooked pasta with garlic vinaigrette, chopped chicken, beets, black olives and artichoke hearts. His recipe was a marked upgrade from the coleslaw-like, mayonnaise-based macaroni salads that were the previous cold pasta standard.

An avalanche of fancy pasta salads followed in the 1980s and ’90s. Celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck enthused about their versatility.



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