Why You Should Avoid Serving Pasta Salad Straight From The Fridge

Eating pasta salad cold is kind of the point. After all, if we wanted something hot and steamy, there are a wide variety of pasta dishes that are meant to be served warm. In the summer months, we tend to look for food that's cooler and more refreshing — but there is such a thing as a too-cold pasta salad. If you've ever eaten it right out of the fridge, you know the noodles can be hard and rubbery, which isn't ideal. Plus, the overwhelming chill can make all those yummy mix-ins hard to enjoy.

Also, many pasta salads include a homemade mayonnaise or olive oil-based dressing. After it's first made, your dressing may be smooth and creamy — but after sitting in the fridge overnight, the fats can solidify, leaving your pasta salad with a less pleasant texture. We often think of the dish as something that's meant to be eaten ice-cold, but in reality, it may be more delicious at room temperature. That said, if you're having a picnic or a barbecue, don't leave it out in the open for more than two hours, or one hour if it's hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).     

How to keep leftover pasta salad tasting fresh

Since you only have a two-hour window before your pasta salad needs to go back in the fridge, you won't want to leave it out for too long before serving — a good rule of thumb is 15 minutes, or when the stiff chill has gone away. Then, give it a good stir to loosen any solidified dressing and let the slightly softened noodles mix back in.

If you want to amp up the flavor even more after removing your pasta salad from the fridge, try adding an extra dash of fresh ingredients. These can be herbs, a little newly-made dressing, or another scoop of freshly cut veggies. If it's still looking a little dry, you can include a few extra-moist ingredients like pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, capers, or some pickles and their juices.

While you'll want to let pasta salad warm up a bit before serving it, avoiding a dry bowl starts when you make it. The end result may be cold, but it's best to dress pasta salad while it's still warm so your noodles properly absorb all the yummy dressing. And to seal in freshness, make sure to store the final product in an airtight container.