Caesar-esque Pasta Salad


Caesar-esque Pasta Salad

Don't expect croutons. 
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 10 oz small pasta rotini is the best
  • 8 baby spinach

for the dressing:

  • 3 anchovies
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice and zest of one large lemon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning with garlic I used the Spice Islands garlic herb seasoning I bought at Costco, fresh garlic in this isn't great
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons nonpareil capers


  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions. During the last 2 minutes, add the spinach. Drain and run under cold water to cool or cool at room temperature. Make sure everything is thoroughly drained. Remove and squeeze the spinach dry if you have to.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk those anchovies into the oil and lemon juice until they basically disappear. Whisk in the seasoning. Stir in the parm and capers.
  • Toss with cold pasta and spinach and serve immediately or chill and serve in about an hour. Leftovers are good the next day but it's best served the day you make it.
Keyword pantry cooking, pasta salad


It’s May and even though it has been unseasonably cool and rainy the last few weeks, my mind is already on summer. And what’s more summery than pasta salad? Probably a lot of things but it is nice to eat a side dish that is cool instead of hot when it is warm out. Or even when it isn’t, like today.

The inspo for this was the classic Caesar salad. Or I guess the classic Caesar salad dressing if you want to be precise. No croutons or lettuce here. Instead, we have pasta and spinach which you can cook right with the pasta, making this one of the quickest and easiest pasta salads I’ve ever made. I was skeptical of spinach and cold pasta for a long time but years ago when my husband went back to school to study ASL for a few years we had to make and pack him dinner for class nights and I quickly found that pasta salad with chicken, tuna or shrimp or cold tortellini salads worked really well and that you can add spinach to them to add some health and its not gross at all. In fact, it’s really good.

My trick is to toss it in whole at the end of the pasta cooking time.  Spinach really holds on to the heat and clumps together so after I drain the pasta and spinach, the spinach is normally on top in a big blob. I run cold water over everything to cool it off. Then I remove the blob of spinach and squeeze it and tear it into smaller bite-sized pieces that distribute themselves well into the pasta when you toss it with the rest of the ingredients. The trick to good pasta salad is drainage so you don’t want any water trapped in there.

I didn’t feel like this salad needed anything else, it has a lot of robust flavors going on but if you wanted it as a main, you could add some chicken or shrimp.

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