For lots of people a good pasta salad is practically a requirement of a party or any summer gathering. The cool and crisp nature of this dish makes it an ideal pairing with heavier foods like BBQ, fried chicken, or pot roast. But, when you want something that really brings the flavor this creamy Cajun pasta salad hits the spot like no other.
What makes this pasta salad so special is the addition of Cajun seasoning and diced red bell pepper. Combined with the creamy dressing and the crunch of chopped celery, the flavor and texture is simply outstanding. This recipe also calls for 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper, which brings just a little bit of heat to an otherwise tame dish.
The Cajun seasoning adds a lot of dimension to this recipe. If you don’t have any on hand or if your grocery doesn’t carry this spice mix then can make your own by combining the following:
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Reserve extra in a clean spice jar for use in other recipes.
To make this recipe start by preparing the pasta of your choice to the directions on the back of the box. You can use elbow macaroni, spiral macaroni, bowtie, rotini, or any other short, small pasta.
For the dressing you pour the olive oil into a bowl and whisk in the lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Then whisk in mayonnaise, mustard, Tabasco sauce, water, paprika, and Cajun seasoning. Then add in the veggies and pour the dressing over the pasta. Stir to combine and if you can allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes then the flavors can really come together.
Finally, you can garnish with chopped parsley if you’d like just before serving, but that’s optional. You could also garnish with some chopped chives or a little bit of dill instead.
One of the reasons we love pasta salad so much is that it’s incredibly easy to customize. Don’t like red bell peppers? You can use hot peppers, black olives, diced carrots, or any veggie you like instead. If you want a little less spice you can leave out the white pepper altogether. It’s so simple to make this pasta salad your own.
The finished dish goes great with lots of different meats and would be the prefect side for a BBQ or game day. Or how about a cold supper of sandwiches and this hearty Cajun pasta salad? The possibilities are unlimited with a recipe as versatile as this one.
Creamy Cajun Pasta Salad
50m prep time
11m cook time
Vegetarian diet suitable
- 1 1-lb box elbow macaroni or bowtie pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 cup shallots, finely minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup celery finely, diced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Bring water to boil for pasta. Cook according to package directions and drain. Rinse with cold water and toss with 1 tablespoon olive in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil. To that whisk in vinegar and lemon juice. To the emulsion add mayonnaise, mustard, Tabasco sauce, water, and blend well. Mix in shallots, bell pepper, celery, paprika, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Add dressing to pasta and stir well to coat. For best taste let mixture sit together for at least half an hour so that flavors can combine.
- Add dressing to pasta and stir well to coat. For best taste let mixture sit together for at least half an hour so that flavors can combine. Optional: garnish with chopped parsley just before serving.
Recipe adapted from How to Feed a Loon.