Seafood Pasta Salad
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This Seafood Pasta Salad combines your favorite seafood with pasta, vegetables and Italian dressing. You can use shrimp, imitation crab, lobster or a combination. It’s an easy side dish that you can make ahead for a party!
When it comes to summery side dishes, this seafood pasta salad is one of our all-time faves. It will tantalize your taste buds with its delicious seafood flavors and a zesty dressing. The best part? It’s ready in just 15 minutes!
We’ve made it for backyard barbecues, parties, potlucks and picnics with rave reviews every time! While it’s almost a meal by itself, this pasta salad makes a fabulous side for steak, ribs, pork chops, chicken, sandwiches and more. You can also combine with other sides like corn on the cob.
Seafood Pasta Salad Ingredients
Here are the key ingredients you’ll need for the salad:
- Pasta: Any small pasta will work including macaroni, small shells, spiral (fusilli), bow-tie (farfalle) or half penne (mezze penne). Use what you have on hand.
- Seafood: Medium size frozen salad shrimp and/or imitation crab are easy and affordable. Pricier additions include lump crab meat (great if you have leftover crab legs), cooked lobster or a combination.
- Bell pepper: Red, green or yellow bell pepper (capsicum), or you can use grape tomatoes instead.
- Green peas: Frozen green peas are quick and easy, but you can substitute finely chopped celery or steamed broccoli too.
- Italian dressing: You can use storebought or make homemade using: extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and Old Bay Seasoning (paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper).
- Mayonnaise (optional): Quality storebought mayo will make give the salad a creamy texture.
- Lemon: a sprinkle of freshly squeezed lemon juice is optional but elevates the flavor.
- Green onions: This is an optional garnish.
This recipe is pretty versatile, so you can use ranch, French or Thousand Island dressing instead of Italian if you prefer. Also, other veggies will work including celery, grape tomatoes, cooked broccoli etc.
How to Make Seafood Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is so easy to make. Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta. While you’re doing that, you can prepare the seafood, chop the vegetables and get the dressing ready.
Drain the pasta and cool it down under running water. Then mix with the other ingredients and pour the dressing on top. Toss until evenly coated and garnish with green onions.
While it tastes best when chilled for 2 hours or more, you can still eat it right away when you’re in a hurry.
Can I Make It Without Mayonnaise?
Yes! If you still want a creamy flavor but with no mayo, sub in a thick Greek yogurt vin this recipe.
Otherwise, go with the Italian dressing alone, which tastes more like a vinaigrette and is also delicious with fewer calories.
More salad ideas:
View all salad recipes
Seafood Pasta Salad
- 1 pound small dry pasta, macaroni, rotini, spirals, mezze penne etc.
- ½ cup bell pepper, red or yellow capsicum, chopped fine
- 1 cup green peas, or chopped celery
- 2 cups medium shrimp, or imitation crab, lump crab or lobster, cut into 3/4-inch chunks if needed (see note)
Homemade Italian Dressing (see note)
- 1/3 cup olive oil, extra virgin recommended
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, optional for creamy texture
- 1 green onion, chopped fine
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Drain through a sieve or colander, and then rinse with cold water until cool.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Chop the bell pepper and prepare the seafood. Run hot water over the peas to defrost.
- In a small bowl, add the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, optional red pepper flakes and optional mayonnaise. Whisk for a minute to combine and form an emulsion.
- In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta, seafood and vegetables. Pour the dressing on top and toss until evenly coated. Garnish with lemon juice and green onions. Keep chilled until serving.
- Seafood: Small or medium shrimp with tails removed are ideal. If you buy frozen pre-cooked, it can be quickly thawed under cold running water and used directly. For imitation crab, simply cut into chunks and use directly. For lump crab and lobster, you'll need to pick out the bits of shell and cartilage with your fingers.
- Italian Dressing: You can use a quality storebought Italian dressing if you prefer.
- Make Ahead: You can make this recipe up to one day ahead of time. Store the dressing and salad separately in airtight containers in the fridge. Dress before serving.
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