What To Serve With Pasta Salad As Main Course?

Pasta salad, with its delightful medley of textures and flavors, often takes center stage in many meals, especially during warm-weather gatherings. While it can stand alone as a hearty dish, complementing it with the right accompaniments can elevate the entire dining experience. 

This article explores a range of dishes that pair beautifully with pasta salad when it’s served as the main course, ensuring a well-rounded and memorable meal.

What To Serve With Pasta Salad As Main Course?

Pasta salad, with its delightful mix of textures and flavors, often shines as a side dish at picnics and potlucks. However, when it takes center stage as the main course, you might wonder what complements it best. Here are some delicious ideas to serve alongside pasta salad to create a well-rounded meal:

1. Grilled Proteins

  • Chicken: Marinated grilled chicken breasts or thighs can be a hearty addition.
  • Fish: Grilled salmon or shrimp skewers offer a lighter protein choice.
  • Tofu: For a vegetarian option, marinated and grilled tofu steaks can be a hit.

2. Bread & Rolls

  • Garlic Bread: Crispy garlic bread or garlic knots are always a favorite.
  • Focaccia: This olive oil-rich bread with herbs can be a delightful accompaniment.
  • Baguette: Serve with a side of olive tapenade or a simple herb-infused olive oil for dipping.

3. Soups

  • Gazpacho: A cold tomato-based soup from Spain, perfect for summer.
  • Minestrone: A hearty vegetable soup that complements the lightness of the pasta salad.

4. Skewers & Kebabs

  • Mix and match vegetables, meats, or seafood on skewers, grill them, and serve with dipping sauces.

5. Stuffed Vegetables

  • Bell peppers, tomatoes, or zucchinis stuffed with a mix of grains and proteins can be a flavorful addition.

6. Green Salads

  • Arugula Salad: With lemon vinaigrette, parmesan, and toasted pine nuts.
  • Caesar Salad: A classic choice with romaine lettuce, croutons, and Caesar dressing.

7. Roasted or Grilled Vegetables

  • Vegetables like asparagus, bell peppers, eggplants, and zucchinis can be simply seasoned, grilled, or roasted and served alongside.

8. Cold Protein Salads

  • Chicken Salad: With a creamy dressing, grapes, and nuts.
  • Tuna or Egg Salad: Serve on lettuce leaves for a refreshing touch.

9. Dips & Spreads

  • Hummus: Classic, roasted red pepper or garlic hummus can be served with pita or vegetable sticks.
  • Bruschetta: Tomato, basil, and garlic mixture served on toasted slices of baguette.

10. Drinks

  • Iced Tea: Lemon, peach, or classic black iced tea.
  • Lemonade: Classic, strawberry, or mint lemonade.
  • Wine: A light white wine or rosé pairs well with pasta salad.


  • Balance is Key: If your pasta salad is rich and creamy, opt for lighter sides like grilled vegetables or green salads. If it’s a light vinaigrette-based pasta salad, you can go for heartier sides.
  • Theme Your Meal: If your pasta salad has a Mediterranean flair, choose sides like hummus or grilled lamb skewers. If it’s a classic American pasta salad, grilled chicken or BBQ might be more fitting.
  • Consider Temperature: If you’re serving a cold pasta salad, a mix of both cold and warm sides can offer a pleasant contrast.

What Meat Goes Well With Pasta Salad For Dinner?

For a hearty and satisfying pasta salad dinner, consider pairing it with the following meats:

  • Grilled Chicken: Sliced or cubed grilled chicken breast or thighs add lean protein.
  • Shrimp: Grilled or sautéed shrimp provide a light and flavorful option.
  • Italian Sausage: Cooked and sliced Italian sausage links bring savory and spiced flavors.
  • Steak Strips: Thinly sliced grilled or seared steak lends a robust and meaty element.
  • Pulled Pork: Tender pulled pork with barbecue sauce complements a sweet and smoky pasta salad.

What To Serve With Pasta Salad Vegetarian?

When serving vegetarian pasta salad, you can create a well-balanced and satisfying meal by pairing it with complementary side dishes:

  • Garlic Bread: Toasted garlic bread or garlic knots are a classic accompaniment.
  • Fresh Salad: A crisp green salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette offers freshness.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Roasted or grilled vegetables like asparagus, bell peppers, or zucchini provide variety and flavor.
  • Fruit Salad: A fruit salad with seasonal fruits adds a refreshing contrast.
  • Hummus and Pita: A side of hummus and warm pita bread makes for a satisfying and protein-rich addition.
  • Cheese Platter: A selection of cheeses, crackers, and olives adds depth to the meal.
  • Gazpacho: A cold tomato-based gazpacho soup can be a refreshing starter.
  • Deviled Eggs: Deviled eggs can provide a savory bite-sized option.

Bottom Line

When pasta salad is the star of the show, choosing the right side dishes can enhance its flavors and add layers to the meal. From grilled proteins like chicken or fish to fresh vegetable dishes and crusty bread, the options are diverse and delectable. 

By considering the specific ingredients and dressing of your pasta salad, you can select accompaniments that harmonize with its profile, creating a cohesive and satisfying feast that celebrates the versatility of pasta salad as a main course.

Also read: How To Make Meat Sauce For Pasta?

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