How Do I Keep Pasta From Absorbing Mayonnaise?

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Pasta salads with mayonnaise dressings make good side or main dishes.
Pasta salads with mayonnaise dressings make good side or main dishes. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Pasta salads add a cool touch to meals, and are particularly popular for summertime cookouts and year-round pot lucks. Prepare them with crispy vegetables, or to turn them into a main dish by adding cooked chicken or seafood. You can dress pasta salads with mayonnaise or a vinaigrette, but sometimes mayonnaise-based salads go dry when the pasta absorbs the mayo. While nothing will stop this from happening, there are techniques that can help keep a pasta salad fresh and creamy.

Things You'll Need

  • Pasta salad ingredients
  • Large bowl
  • Cooking spoon
  • Olive oil
  • Sour cream

Drain pasta well before incorporating it into a salad with mayonnaise. The pasta needs to be as dry as possible so the mayonnaise can coat each separate pasta piece without being diluted.

Chill pasta and other ingredients before mixing your salad together to help slow the absorption of mayonnaise.

Coat the pasta with a very thin layer of olive oil to create a barrier between the pasta and the mayonnaise dressing.

Decrease the amount of mayonnaise and replace what you have removed with the same amount of sour cream.

Choose pasta shapes that encourage mayonnaise to cling. Rotini, radiatore, shells or wagon wheels make good bases for mayonnaise dressings.

Choose pasta shapes that encourage mayonnaise to cling.
Choose pasta shapes that encourage mayonnaise to cling. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Stir the mayonnaise into the salad just before serving to avoid giving it the opportunity to be absorbed in the pasta.

Tips & Warnings

  • The pasta may not be absorbing as much mayonnaise as it first appears to be. Sometimes the mayonnaise settles to the bottom of a pasta salad. Stir the salad up from the bottom to redistribute any mayonnaise that may have collected there.
  • To avoid food-borne illnesses, keep pasta salad as chilled as possible. Be particularly cautious in the summer when temperatures are warmer and foods with mayonnaise spoil more quickly. Consider nesting your serving bowl with a larger bowl that is filled with ice.

References

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