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How to Make Pasta Salad Using Leftover Ingredients: a Quick and Easy Recipe

Updated on June 22, 2017
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Thelma is a former field editor for Taste of Home magazine and currently owns a marketing company for the promotion of community cookbooks.

Easy Pasta Salad made with Leftovers
Easy Pasta Salad made with Leftovers | Source

A Simple Recipe for an Experienced Cook or a Beginner

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Don't Throw Out Those Leftovers

This recipe for Pasta Salad is so quick and easy because you can use up the leftovers you have in the refrigerator that have already been cooked. If you liked the dish when you served it the first time, you are sure to like it again as an ingredient in this simple salad. Just about anything works well!

Ingredients

  1. Of course, the basic ingredient for Pasta Salad is pasta. No brainer there! So start your salad with whatever type of leftover pasta you might have or cook some fresh, using what you have available in your pantry. In the salad pictured here, I used spaghetti noodles because I had some leftover from preparing spaghetti and meatballs a couple of nights earlier. Instead of being wasteful and throwing out my abundance of pasta, I saved it in the refrigerator as I knew I would find a way to use it. Then, I had the bright idea of making a big bowl of pasta salad for a light lunch.
  2. Next, I decided to put some meat in my salad. I had a few pieces of leftover pork roast in the refrigerator. It wasn't enough for the main course of a meal but it was just the right amount to cut into small pieces and add to my pasta bowl. Before I added it, I decided to heat it just a short time in the microwave because it didn't look very appealing. I heated it about 30 seconds to melt any grease that was showing because of it being cold. If you like the meat cold, you can skip the heating step.
  3. I had a block of Swiss cheese from Pennsylvania Amish country. It was the perfect taste to go along with the pork, so I cut up some small chunks and into the bowl it went.
  4. We love tomatoes in just about any kind of salad. Since I had one just ready to be eaten, I cut it into pieces and added it to the other ingredients.
  5. I almost always have a big Vidalia onion on hand. I keep it in a baggie in the refrigerator and cut off just the amount I need each time. The sweet onion tastes great with tomatoes, so some small pieces of Vidalia found their way into the salad.
  6. At this point, I realized the dish needed some more color! I had a small bowl of leftover cooked carrots I had originally served with the pork roast. Again, there weren't enough to serve as a side dish with a meal, but too many to throw out. I had never used cooked carrots in a salad before, but I decided since raw carrots taste so good why not try cooked.
  7. I had the color red from the tomatoes and the orange carrots but I wanted one more colorful ingredient. So I scoured the refrigerator and came up with green olives! Personally I don't like them but another plus for this salad is you can pick out any of the ingredients you don't want to eat.
  8. This brings us to the last ingredient and in my opinion the most important except for the pasta. I poured Zesty Italian salad dressing over the ingredients and mixed everything together well. There is no need for any additional spices because this particular salad dressing does the trick unless you want to add a spice you are fond of. I use Kraft Zesty Italian dressing but any dressing with spices would work well.
  9. If you plan this salad for lunch, put all of the ingredients together first thing in the morning. That way, the dressing will have a chance to meld with the ingredients by the time you are ready to eat it.

Photo by author, The Country Homemaker.  May not be used without written permission of the author.
Photo by author, The Country Homemaker. May not be used without written permission of the author.

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I served this pasta salad with crusty Italian bread along with apple slices and grapes for dessert. I put some Parmesan cheese on the table for anyone that wanted to sprinkle it over their salad for a little extra cheese flavor. Simple, budget friendly, easy and very colorful, especially when served on my beautiful Blue Ridge pottery dishes.

The beauty of this salad recipe is you add ingredients that are already cooked and waiting in the refrigerator to be used. It is like a FREE Lunch! You can't get any easier or cheaper than this.

© 2016 Thelma Raker Coffone

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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 16 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      i agree that left over could make wonderful pasta too

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