How to Make Seafood Pasta Salad

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Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 5

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Seafood pasta salads can vary from classic Italian versions, with a tomato-based dressing, to Asian-influenced concoctions rich with fresh herbs and ginger. To create this versatile dish, make use of leftovers from another meal or cook fresh seafood just for the salad. In this recipe, the citrus flavored seafood mix is balanced with creamy chunks of avocado for a hearty but healthy pasta salad.

Ingredients

Seafood and Vegetables

  • 2 cups mixed seafood (shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari rings), thawed

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  • 1/4 cup orange juice

  • 4 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon white sugar

  • 1 can of sweet corn niblets, drained

  • 1 large avocado, cut into chunks

  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped

  • 1/4 cup sweet red pepper, chopped

  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves

  • 2 large oranges, peeled and sectioned, meat only

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

  • 2 cups spiral pasta, dried

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup canola oil

  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 4 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1/8 cup orange juice

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Mix all of the dressing ingredients, shaking vigorously in a sealed jar to ensure that they have fully blended. Let the dressing rest while you cook the pasta and seafood.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the spiral pasta until it is al dente, with some bite in the center. This will take roughly eight to 10 minutes.

Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute before adding the seafood, salt, sugar, lemon and lime juice. Remove the seafood from the heat and set it aside.

Warning

  • Undercook the seafood slightly to prevent it from overcooking while it rests. Overcooked seafood has a rubbery, chewy texture.

Drain the pasta in a colander and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of the dressing along with the cooked seafood and juices in the pan. Stir to coat the pasta and seafood evenly with the dressing. Let the mixture sit until it comes to room temperature.

Tip

  • Dressing the pasta while it is still warm helps it absorb the sauce, leading to a more flavorful dish.

Mix in the chopped vegetables, including the orange pieces but excluding the parsley and spinach, and season with 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep the dish at room temperature for no more than one hour. For longer storage, keep it in the fridge and cover it with plastic wrap. Add in the baby spinach and minced parsley just before serving.

Tip

    • If you are chopping your avocado in advance, coat the cut pieces with a little lemon juice and water to prevent browning.

    • You can add the baby spinach and parsley at the same time as the other vegetables, but the greens will wilt as the salad sits.

Variations

A different pasta shape can be used, such as farfalle -- bowtie -- pasta or orzo. Stick with smaller, bite-sized pasta shapes, as this makes the salad easier to eat and serve.

To change the flavor profile, use any vegetables you have on hand. Always use bite-size pieces of vegetable to maintain a uniform, easy-to-eat texture.

Use a different dressing -- homemade or store-bought -- for an even quicker-to-prepare dish.

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