Imperfect Pasta is the Secret to Perfect Pasta Salad

Photograph: A.A. Newton

Like different entries within the “carbs coated in mayo” class of facet dishes, pasta salad is extremely polarizing. When it’s good, I can’t cease consuming it; when it’s dangerous, it’s inedible. I’ve discovered that the key to essentially good pasta salad isn’t do-it-yourself mayo or a very good jar of pickles—it’s actually dangerous pasta. Particularly, overcooked pasta.

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To me, the one defining characteristic of a foul batch of pasta salad is crunchy noodles, which occurs as a result of starches solidify in chilly temperatures. (For those who’ve ever eaten leftover spaghetti straight from the fridge, you realize what I’m speaking about.) All that you must do to fight that is take pasta salad noodles well past the purpose of al dente—the softer they’re after they’re sizzling, the extra tender they’ll be when chilled.

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To make one of the best pasta salad ever, convey a pot of very well-salted water to a boil, add your pasta, and cook dinner for not less than a minute or two longer than the bundle directions say. The noodles ought to provide barely any resistance—however not be completely mushy—whenever you take a chew, and they need to be noticeably bigger than they began out. Clearly, cooked pasta will at all times be larger than dry, however overcooked pasta actually swells up:

Photograph: A.A. Newton

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From right here, all that you must do is let the noodles quiet down a bit after which season them to your liking. This specific batch of pasta salad was a clean-out-the-fridge quantity: some cilantro and parsley root pesto that wanted for use, extra-ripe giardiniera, thawed frozen peas, the remnants of a block of mozzarella, and a jammy egg for good measure. It was scrumptious—and even after an evening within the fridge, the pasta stayed completely tender.

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