The Ratio Tip You Need For Better Balanced Pasta Salad

When the days get warmer and it's too hot to spend much time cooking, pasta salad is an ideal summertime meal. And although there are a million ways to make it, from veggie antipasti Italian pasta salad to Southwest pasta salad, there are a few tips you should know to make a delicious cold dish consistently. You can use almost any ingredients you'd like, but when measuring everything out, use one pound of pasta for every two pounds of main ingredients.

Most pasta boxes contain a pound of noodles, so to keep it simple and have enough to feed a crowd, just add in the whole package. And you'll want to use double the other ingredients to keep it light, fresh, colorful, and flavorful because too much pasta will weigh everything down and make the dish bland since noodles don't have a strong taste on their own. You can mix and match how much of each ingredient to add if you'd like, so for example, go lighter on the onions or heavier on the cheese. But in total, make sure all the ingredients add up to twice the amount of pasta for the ideal balance.

The right ratios for ingredients and dressing

Once you've nailed down that initial ratio, it's time to figure out the measurements of each ingredient besides the pasta. In general, you'll want to go heavier on the veggies since they're inexpensive and nutritious, and you can mix and match lots of different ones in a single bowl. When it comes to mild proteins like garbanzo beans, eggs, chicken, or shrimp, you're going to want to cut back a little so they don't overwhelm the salad. If you're tossing in more potent options like pepperoni, salami, or prosciutto, you'll want to include even less. Likewise, use a light hand when adding strongly flavored extras like capers, feta, banana peppers, or olives.

It's also essential, both flavor and texture-wise, to pour the right amount of dressing over your bowl. Too much can make for a soggy salad (especially after it sits in the fridge for a few days), while too little will lead to dry and less flavorful pasta. Try using one cup of dressing for each pound of pasta — if that's not enough, you can always add in a little more after thorough mixing, or even on individual bowls if you're afraid of sogginess in the main one. But if you follow all of these ratios, you should end up with a flavorful, fresh summer dish.