Use An Almost-Empty Salsa Jar For Pasta Salad Dressing With A South-Of-The-Border Fusion

As backyard barbecue season starts to amp up, pasta salad is one of the most popular sides to bring to the table. Even if you've got a go-to set of pasta salad recipes, a jar of salsa is the unexpected addition to give them a novel and delicious twist. Salsas encompass a diverse array of red, green, cream and oil-based recipes that'll add complexity and zest to a simple pasta salad dressing.

Whether you buy them at the store or make your own fresh salsa, it only takes a splash or two to upgrade dressing. You can thus use salsa for the standard basket of chips or as a meat marinade for the main-course protein, reserving the remnants for your pasta salad dressing. You can even save yourself some dishes by adding the pasta salad dressing ingredients directly into the mostly empty jar of salsa and shaking to combine.

It'll provide a spicy, acidic component that will either enhance the acidity of a vinaigrette or complement the creaminess of a mayo-based dressing while also contributing some volume. Furthermore, as a Mexican specialty, salsa opens new avenues for additional pasta salad ingredients, transforming a classic American recipe into a Mexican-American fusion dish.

Ideas for salsa and pasta salad pairings

Salsas will upgrade just about any pasta salad recipe. Combining it with fat and an emulsifier in salad dressings will distribute the salsa's flavor and help it cling to pasta salad ingredients. If you enjoy spicy salsas but don't want them to overpower your pasta salad, blend them with a creamy mayo-based dressing. For example, you could add a spicy habanero salsa to Hawaiian macaroni salad with a mayonnaise and vinegar dressing. You could supplement the standard celery and carrots with crispy bacon for a burst of smoky savoriness and a meaty textural contrast.

Add an herby sour cream dressing to a jar of sweet, smoky, and spicy chipotle salsa for a well-balanced yet complex pasta salad dressing for a pasta salad with shrimp or shredded chicken. A spicy and tangy salsa Valentina would go perfectly with this zippy tuna salad recipe, complementing the fishy umami and richness of a mayo-based dressing perfectly. Since chili oil is as popular in Asian cooking as it is in Mexican cuisine, you could add salsa matcha to this Asian-inspired Mandarin chicken pasta salad.

If you enjoy the tangy sweetness of a roasted tomatillo salsa, try mixing it with a dijon mustard vinaigrette and pairing it with pasta salad ingredients like avocado, canned corn, and cherry tomatoes. A splash of salsa verde would complement the smoky sweet chipotles in adobo that this Southwestern pasta salad uses in its sour cream and mayo-based dressing.