Pasta salad is a summertime staple, perfect to serve at a big cook out, potluck or simple cold meal on a hot day.
As pasta salads are usually made with a variety of different vegetables and a dressing, we often need more from a meal to make it extra nutritious.
Here are the most deliciously simple side dishes that you can serve alongside any pasta salad dish you like to complete the meal.
1. Garlic Bread
Garlic bread is a classic side dish that goes well with almost anything! Whether you’ve made a pasta salad for lunch or dinner, for a cookout or just to take to work, garlic bread will be perfect on the side.
If you have time to make your own garlic bread, then try out this recipe that incorporates salty butter, shredded parmesan cheese and plenty of freshly minced garlic.
The whole process will only take around 25 minutes and you’ll have a ton of garlic bread to share.
Chicken tastes so much better when it’s grilled, not to mention a lot healthier than other methods of cooking. When grilling chicken we want it to be properly cooked but still remain juicy and full of flavor.
This recipe will ensure that no chicken will be wasted in the pursuit of tasty food! Thyme, oregano, garlic, and lemon zest are all used to add flavor to the breast.
The chicken can be grilled indoors or on an outdoor grill or campfire for equally good results.
Parmesan makes everything taste better in our opinion. This smoky parmesan recipe is ideal on a hot summer’s day to serve alongside pasta salad.
The smoky flavors come from sprinklings of paprika and garlic that is used to coat the corn ears.
Roast them, grill them, or wrap them in foil to cook over a campfire until they are juicy and ready to eat.
If you’re catering to a vegetarian or vegan diet then the parmesan can be left out and still retain that perfect smoky flavor.
4. Bacon Strips
Cooking up some extra crispy bacon strips or pancetta will be welcomed as a salty contrast on the side of any pasta dish.
There are often smoky elements to bacon which can also further enhance the pasta dish and work whether the bacon is hot or cold.
When having a big family barbecue, the bacon can be cooked alongside all the other meat and served when it’s ready either in the pasta salad or alongside on its own plate.
No matter the method you choose, it’s doubtful there will be any left at the end!
Hard boiled eggs are something many might overlook when it comes to adding to a spread, but they are full of protein and can taste amazing if seasoned properly.
Whether you want to crush them into your pasta salad or just eat them using your hand, seasoning is the key to success.
Mixing paprika, black pepper, and garlic with warm olive oil together creates a mouthwatering dressing to drizzle over the egg halves.
These are just suggestions on how to prepare the hard boiled eggs, they can also be fried and caramelized to produce a creme brulee-style effect.
Caprese salads are the perfect blend of fresh and light foods that will superbly compliment a pasta salad. This recipe also has a sweet balsamic reduction to drizzle over the top, with some olive oil of course.
Although simple, the flavors make a big impact and are a healthy alternative to serve on the side of the dish or contribute to a delightful spread.
This creamy garlic shrimp recipe is absolutely to die for. Plump and juicy prawns are perfect with pasta, especially when marinated in a creamy aromatic sauce with lashings of butter and garlic.
It’s not the healthiest dish, we hold our hands up. Sometimes we want a treat alongside our meal and this side dish really is a wonderful option.
The shrimp are cooked in the creamy sauce which leaves plenty leftover to mix in with the pasta salad if you desire.
8. Hot Dogs
Grilling hot dogs on the barbecue is a common occurrence for many during the summer months, both meat or meat-substitute. Serving some crispy delicious hot dogs alongside a pasta salad is always a good idea.
They can be cut up into pieces and mixed in as part of the salad or simply enjoyed whilst flitting between foods.
We also love them as they are a great protein source whether they are veggie or not!
Go a step further and brush some barbeque sauce over the skin of the hot dog as you turn it to really add to the smoky flavors from the grill.
For a quick and easy side dish, this garlic sauteed spinach can be ready in minutes and only requires a few ingredients.
The spinach is best served hot, therefore we would recommend only preparing this side if you are staying home to eat it and can eat it when cooked.
Lemon, garlic, and sea salt are all used to enhance the taste of the spinach, which adds some tangy flavors and some needed crunch from the now soft leaves.
Zucchini is a vegetable that is often used in Italian cooking, which means it goes well with a pasta salad.
The zucchini rounds are coated in Italian seasoning, olive oil and plenty of parmesan cheese before being baked in the oven until crispy and golden brown.
This is such a simple way to prepare the vegetable that produces delicious results. It’s also a fabulous way to get fussy eaters to eat those much needed vegetables.
Peas and pancetta can be whipped up easily when you’re limited on time and aren’t sure what to cook.
Although ideal any time of the year, they taste better when served hot so would be ideal as a spring or winter side.
Crispy caramelized onions, salty pancetta and the humble, comforting pea are all mixed together before serving alongside your pasta salad. If you like, add some fresh mint to the dish for a little extra flavor.
If you’ve been entrusted with bringing a dish to a barbecue or potluck then why not try this stuffed tomato recipe.
You’ll be sure to impress everyone with the appearance of the dish as well as the flavor.
The tomatoes are stuffed with a mixture of a breadcrumb mixture flavored with capers, garlic, and pine nuts. It’s worth the extra preparation time to produce this southern Italian delight.
13. BBQ Chicken
Breast or wings? No matter your choice on the cut of chicken you like to grill and smother in barbecue sauce, they will be a great addition to your spread.
The key is to not overcook your chicken so it becomes dry and tasteless on the inside.
This is a quick and simple recipe that utilizes your favorite barbecue sauce rather than messing around with fancy rubs and tools.
We recommend cooking the chicken with the grill lid down rather than an open heat source for best results.
Barbecue chicken also works well with pasta salad as both can be eaten and enjoyed cold, which means cold cuts for lunch tomorrow. Yay!
Another carb-fuelled side dish that is enough to make your mouth water is this tomato and basil bruschetta with a rich balsamic drizzle.
As tomatoes are starting to ripen, make the most of the sweet and juicy fruits.
This light and crisp bruschetta is perfect to serve alongside a pasta salad. Rub your bread with garlic for a true Italian style of cooking.
You can even toast your bread on a grill or outdoor pizza oven for a lovely smoky flavor.
Green beans are plenty colorful and full of nutrients that make them a healthy and tasty side. Most of the time, the simple recipes are the best.
The beans are flavored with minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and coarse salt for a freshy and crunchy dish suitable for everyone.
Can I use any of the seafood side dishes as a pasta salad side dish?
When it comes to pasta salad, versatility is key. Luckily, many top seafood side dishes can be used as delightful accompaniments. Whether you opt for shrimp, crab, or tuna, their flavors can enhance the salad’s taste and texture. Experiment with different combinations to create a refreshing and satisfying pasta salad experience.
The Bottom Line
There you have some fresh inspiration on what to serve with your pasta salad. Ultimately, the best side dishes for your pasta salad will be what works for you and your guests!
Frequently Asked Questions
Ideally, dress the salad when the pasta is still warm as it will help to absorb the flavors of the dressing.
If you’re making the pasta salad in advance, we would recommend dressing it warm with half of the marinade and using the rest when the salad is cold.
Any of the vegetable dishes featured here are a healthy option to serve with pasta, as well as many of the meat options. Avoid anything with lots of cream, fat, or salt to enjoy a healthy meal.