Pasta Caesar Salad is refreshing, so tasty, and somewhat familiar. It goes perfectly alongside a summer BBQ or a casual lunch year-round.Jump to Recipe
Pasta Caesar Salad is an easy side dish to make for a BBQ, dinner, or lunch. It’s familiar because of the well-known and classic Caesar salad, but with a fun twist. The inclusion of al dente pasta to this salad adds a huge boost of texture and overall appeal...obviously.
Caesar salad works so well because the crispy crunch of the romaine lettuce pairs with the cool, tangy flavors of the Caesar dressing. Combine that with some shaved parmesan and crunchy croutons and it becomes completely addicting. Usually, grilled chicken breast is what makes this dish have some nutrition, but the star ingredient in this recipe is undoubtedly the pasta. It just makes it all that much more delectable.
Pasta salad is such a staple for BBQs and grilling out and there are so many variations. Some salads get mixed with Italian dressing, others with mayo, but they all include some vegetables! This pasta salad is unique in that it uses creamy dressing – and is added to a very popular standalone salad. Once you add pasta to your Caesar salad, you’ll be shocked at how great they go together!
WHEN TO EAT
Since this pasta salad can act as both a side dish and the main entrée – it makes itself perfect for BBQs and outdoor picnics, as well as your typical lunch any time of year when you would normally have Caesar salad.
It’s super quick and easy to put together, so you can totally whip this up when you’re in a crunch too. Either way, it works perfectly as a main course option or as the perfect side dish for a summer BBQ that would be a sure crowd-pleaser.
An easy variation you can make is to make the pasta Caesar salad with chicken. Season the chicken, grill it and add slices right to the salad. Adding chicken is an excellent protein boost to this pasta salad and is a perfect way of transforming this salad into lunch or dinner.
TIPS FOR ASSEMBLING & INGREDIENTS
A couple of tips to make this come out with the best results:
One of the issues with Caesar salads is that if you’re accidentally using lettuce that’s a little past its prime, the whole salad can taste bland, watery, and really lack texture. Making the whole thing unappetizing.
It would seem that other ingredients, like the dressing and parmesan, matter more to make this dish stand out – but in fact, the base of the dish (the lettuce) is the key.
- Make sure you choose fresh, vibrant, and crispy romaine lettuce in the first place and store it so it doesn’t condensate and wilt before you use it. If you need to wash your lettuce before using, also make sure you fully dry your lettuce afterwards! This can add so much moisture to your pasta salad, making it a soggy mess.
- You will also want to make sure you drain and dry your pasta thoroughly, as you don’t want additional water diluting the taste of your Caesar dressing.
- A note about adding dressing – the rule of thumb is that you can always add more, but you cannot take it out once you add it. So, therefore, add half of what you think you’d like, stir it together, and taste test it. Keep repeating this process until you like the ratio. This will be a completely personal preference
- Remember that if you’re making this for a crowd, it's better to err on the side of less is more, because again, people can always add more to their liking.
- If you intend to have leftovers, note that the dressing will wilt the lettuce, so it’s better to either leave the dressing completely out until you eat, or only mix in very little.
- After you mix this all together, you’ll want to refrigerate the pasta salad bowl so that it all comes together and gets cold.
Croutons – you can use whatever croutons you like the best!
Parmesan – the best kind of parmesan to use for Caesar salad are shaved parmesan flakes
Variations – other ingredients you can mix into Caesar salad are grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, corn kernels, diced red onion, and crumbled bacon
Each serving has 159 calories, 9 grams of fat, 13 grams of carbs, and 5.5 grams of protein.
Keep this dish cold before serving since it’s intended to be served cold. If you have leftovers, they will only keep a day or so if you’ve added dressing since it will wilt the lettuce as explained above. If not, the salad will keep another couple of days.
AS ALWAYS, IF YOU MAKE THIS – PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!
Pasta Caesar Salad
- 2 cups cooked penne
- 1 head green or romaine lettuce
- ½ cup shaved parmesan
- ½ cup croutons
- ½ cup light creamy Caesar dressing
Before assembling salad, make sure you have already cooked your pasta according to the box directions, rinsed with cold water to stop the cooking, and set aside to cool off.
If you mix hot pasta with the rest of the salad ingredients, it will wilt the lettuce and melt the cheese.
Chop the lettuce to ½” shreds. In a large bowl, mix together the lettuce, croutons, shaved parmesan, dressing, and pasta once its cooled.
Mix everything together and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
*Note: Don’t mix in the dressing until the day you are eating it.
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