Jazz Up Basic Pasta Salad With Canned Mandarins

There's nothing that ties a pasta dish together like a splash of citrus. Fresh lemon or orange juice brightens up the dish, adding a subtle zesty flavor to each bite. If you can't get enough of that citrus taste, place canned mandarin oranges in your pasta salad for a more impactful twist.

Sweet without the usual tartness of its citrus counterparts, mandarin oranges are the perfect bright spot for a boring pasta salad. They add a juicy burst of flavor to every bite of spinach or pasta, coating the salad in its subtle sweetness, and the oranges pair well with almost every type of pasta salad. In her mandarin chicken pasta salad recipe, Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Rye takes an Asian-fusion approach.

Foregoing the normal pasta salad combination of cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes, Rye's recipe has a dynamic flavor. "The saltiness of the soy sauce and nuttiness of sesame oil are balanced out by the freshness of creamy avocado, the crisp lettuce, sharp scallions, and the herby bright cilantro," she explains.

Add canned mandarin to these pasta salads

While bright, citrus flavors are often associated with the heat of summer, mandarin oranges are actually in season during the winter. At the peak of ripeness, the fruits taste incredible in fall harvest salads

Toss the mandarin oranges onto a bed of balsamic vinaigrette-massaged kale, farfalle, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, and cardamom-flavored chicken for an earthy, rich salad with a touch of sweetness. Or, give mandarin oranges a Mediterranean twist by placing them in an orzo pasta salad. With grilled sliced lamb bringing a savory component, toss in earthy pine nuts, pungent red onions, salty Kalamata olives, and crumbled feta. Then, massage the orzo in pasta salad and mix in parsley and mint for an earthy, zesty addition.

For a quick and easy pasta salad, add the canned oranges to a bed of cooked fusilli and arugula. Add in balls of mozzarella cheese, chopped red onions for a tangy taste, and sunflower seeds for texture, and tear up pieces of smoked salmon for some protein and canned chickpeas for a hearty flavor.