During the lazy, hot days of summer, no one really wants to stand over a stove and that is why pasta salads are so brilliant. But let’s be honest, once the fall routine starts up, there is not a lot of time or desire to be standing over a stove either.
What makes a fall pasta salad different than a pasta salad in the summer? To be perfectly honest: nothing. There are just different vegetables in season in the fall, and it’s always easier on your pocketbook to cook with seasonable fresh vegetables. But you can still make a Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad or BBQ Ranch Pasta Salad in October and no one will complain a bit.
Another great thing about pasta salads in the fall is that they can typically sit around for a while (either in the fridge or at room temp – just check the recipe) so if you are feeding people as they get home from after-school activities, their meal is right there ready to go. You can even pack pasta salad to go for those family dinners in the car.
This crazy delicious Fall Harvest Pasta Salad from Inspired by Charm has been in rotation in my fall life for many years. I love all of the colors and flavors in this pasta salad, and usually, I have all of the ingredients already on hand. You can grab fun-colored pasta at most stores, and Trader Joe’s always has a festive bag this time of year. Often I chop up a rotisserie chicken and throw it in because my teens need a little more protein after a long day.
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If you observe #MeatlessMonday, this Vegan Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad from Cooking for Peanuts is a perfect pasta salad to add to your rotation. It can be served warm or cold, and if you meal prep, you can roast all of the veggies earlier in the week and just toss it together right before dinner. Orzo is one of my favorite pastas not just because of the cute little shape, but because it adds the “pasta” heartiness without feeling overly heavy.
Broccoli is actually a fall harvest vegetable, although now you can pretty much buy it year-round. If you love the summer version of broccoli salad, this Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Salad with Cranberries from Yummy Addiction will keep you satisfied right on through the autumn months. The cranberries add a little sweetness, and if you don’t have sunflower seeds on hand, pepitas or cashews have worked really well for me. This pasta salad will want to hang out in your fridge until it’s time to eat, so maybe skip taking this one to eat on the road.
So technically farro is a grain, and not pasta, but this Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Kale, Pomegranate, and Goat Cheese from Daisy Beet is too good not to include here. This salad makes a great one-dish vegetarian meal, or is a fabulous side for as a side with our favorite roast pork tenderloin. This salad can be served warm or cold, and is full of so many good-for-you things you may want to serve it up a few times over the next couple of months to help boost those little immune systems.
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This recipe for Rice Noodle Salad with Steak from What’s Gaby Cooking is pretty much the perfect recipe for a busy weeknight. Not only does it come together in a snap, but you could also use whatever protein you prefer (steak, shrimp, chicken, or tofu). The beauty of this salad is that it travels really well – so perfect for those nights everyone has to eat in the car to and from practices, and makes a really great leftover lunch the next day in these awesome thermos containers from our affiliate.
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Delicata squash is my favorite squash of all time. It’s so easy to just slice it up (no peeling required) and roast on a baking sheet. Juli at Paelomg added roasted delicata squash along with brussels sprouts, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, and pecans to this Fall Pasta Salad, and I could eat it every single day this fall if my family would agree to it.
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If you have more hearty eaters in your house (say a teen who is ravenous after football practice), a big bowl of this Cowboy Pasta Salad from Six Sister’s Stuff is always a winner. Everyone in my house is super excited when there is a bowl of this pasta salad in the fridge at the end of the day. I like to cook up a big batch of cornbread to serve alongside (with honey and butter of course). Save some evening stress by mixing it all together in the morning and keeping it in the fridge until it’s time to eat (because of the mayo in the dressing, make sure doesn’t sit out for a long period of time).
Top photo: Ella Olsson on Unsplash