Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Pasta Salad - The Perfect Fourth of July Side Dish

by Mindy Obenhaus

Know anyone having a cookout anytime soon? Like, oh, tomorrow? 

Yes, the Fourth of July and cookouts seem to go hand-in-hand. And this pasta salad is the perfect accompaniment to your burgers, brats, chicken, ribs or steaks. It's even delicious all by itself. It's nice and cool...perfect for a hot summer day. Best of all, it's easy. If you can boil water, you can make this pasta salad.

Of course, there's always one key ingredient in pasta salad and that's the pasta. I prefer mine with some color, so I often opt for the Wacky Mac or some other tri-colored pasta.
Sometimes you can even find holiday pasta, like red, white and blue stars or red and green Christmas trees. I've seen them at places like Homegoods and Cost Plus World Market. They're fun for both cooking and decorating. Simply keep them on display in a sealed mason jar until you're ready to use them.

Cook your pasta according to package directions to al dente. Once the time is up, drain immediately and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Then place your cooked pasta into a bowl. 

Add some chopped red onion, bell pepper and sliced black olives. 
These are my veggies of choice, but you're welcome to use whatever you like. But this next ingredient is what takes this pasta salad to the next level.
Imitation crab, which can usually be found in the meat section of your favorite market, is the key ingredient. Chop it up and stir in as much or little as you like into your pasta mixture.
Top everything with some Italian salad dressing (I don't recommend fat-free versions because without the oil the liquid ends up soaking into the pasta, making for a drier salad) and toss again.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to serve. That means you can make it the day ahead. But when something is this easy, you really don't have to.

Colorful, tasty and simple, making this one of my all-time favorite recipes. Oh, and did I mention it's always a crowd-pleaser?

So tell me about your plans for the Fourth. Do you tend to celebrate at home or do you like to go somewhere? And how about the fireworks? 

Three-time Carol Award finalist, Mindy Obenhaus, lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children, two dogs and countless cattle. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining and sometimes adventurous manner. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at mindyobenhaus.com


  1. I can't believe I've never thought to use crab in pasta salad! What is the matter with me???

    Mindy, this sounds marvelous, and I bet a zesty Italian dressing with roasted tomato would be good... or even a homemade Italian, loaded with Parmesan? What do you think?

    My family is not big on tri-colored anything except the flag.

    So we'll use regular rotini.

    But I do like the fun look and flavor of the tri-color so you and I can eat that one together!

    I love the 4th of July.

    Where's 1776???? Bring on William Daniels and Blythe Danner and the whole musical crew!

    1. Ruthy, the zesty Italian dressing is what I used. And you can add as much or little as you like. Not sure about the parmesan, but I might have to give that a try. But yes, the imitation crab is a game-changer when it comes to pasta salad.

      So you think the tri-color pasta tastes different? I've never noticed it. I just do it for the color. Otherwise I have to come up with a ton more veggies, which will turn most of my family off. What is it with these people?

  2. Oh I do love a good pasta salad and I never make them. I don't know why. No plans for the 4th of July here. :-) And my national birthday was a wash out because of the crazy heatwave...which is still lingering so I plan to celebrate the 4th in front of the fan with a good book. :-)

    1. Kav, I can't imagine why you wouldn't be celebrating the 4th up there in Canada. ;) However, your plans for a fan and a good book sound perfect.

  3. I am making this for our camping trip this weekend. With some modifications though. I have one similar that I use caesar dressing instead of Italian. Never thought to add crab!

    1. Hi, Katie. You'll have to let me know what you think about the addition. Like I said, the difference is notable.

  4. This looks wonderful. We're not having a cookout for the 4th, but I'll save this recipe to make sometime this summer!

  5. Mindy, what a great recipe! I'm sorry I missed it yesterday.

    I love to make pasta salad. Love your idea of adding crab!

    My favorite dressing for pasta salad is actually Greek dressing. I really love Ken's.

    Happy 4th everyone!