I love pasta salads in the summer because they’re filling, have bold flavors and textures, and (most importantly) they’re COLD!
I made this pasta salad with a cajun flare by adding smoked pork sausage, classic cajun vegetables like bell pepper, onion, and celery (the “holy trinity” in cajun cooking), and then coating it all with a garlic and cayenne vinaigrette. Don’t worry, the cayenne isn’t extremely spicy and you can adjust it to your preference!
This salad is sturdy enough to stand on its own as a main dish or you can downsize the portions and make it a side. It’s perfect for a hot summer night! Plus, it just gets tastier and tastier every day as the flavors mingle in the fridge!
Cajun Pasta Salad
Cajun Pasta Salad
- 12 oz. pasta any shape ($0.86)
- 1 lb. smoked sausage ($3.79)
- 1 medium green bell pepper ($0.99)
- 1 medium red bell pepper ($1.19)
- 1/2 medium red onion ($0.42)
- 3 stalks celery ($0.40)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil ($0.21)
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar ($0.32)
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard ($0.06)
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic ($0.21)
- 3/4 tsp salt ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
- 1/2 tsp paprika, smoked if possible ($0.03)
- to taste cracked pepper ($0.02)
- 1/3 bunch fresh parsley ($0.29)
- Begin by cooking the pasta according to the package directions – boil for 7-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander.
- While the pasta water is heating up, slice the sausage into medallions, 1/2 inch thick. Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until it is well browned. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
- While the pasta and sausage are cooking, thinly slice the bell peppers, onion, and celery. Place the vegetables in a very large bowl. (While you’re at it, wash and slice the rest of the celery and freeze for use in a soup on another day)
- After the pasta and sausage finish cooking, allow them to cool slightly. While they are cooling, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, cayenne, paprika, and black pepper.
- Place the slightly cooled pasta in the bowl with the vegetables (don’t worry if it’s slightly stuck together, the vinaigrette will loosen it. Don’t use water!). Add the cooked sausage, pour the vinaigrette over everything and stir to coat. Roughly chop 1/3 bunch of parsley and add it to the salad, stirring again until evenly mixed in. Serve warm or cold!
Step By Step Photos
Begin by cooking the pasta. I used 3/4 of this 1 lb. box. The rest can be saved for one of those nights when you need a single serving of something quick. And hopefully you have some tomato sauce stashed away in the freezer!
This is the smoked sausage that I used, it’s a generic store brand. Smoked sausage is easy to come by here in Louisiana but there are definitely some national brands that make it as well. If you can’t get a one pound package, sausage freezes well so don’t worry about buying a larger amount.
Slice the sausage into medallions and cook in a large skillet over medium heat until it is well browned. Pork sausage gives off a lot of grease so I drained mine on a plate covered with paper towels.
While the pasta and sausage are cooking, thinly slice the vegetables. Don’t let the rest of the celery go to waste, slice it and freeze it for use in a soup or stew some other time.
While the pasta and sausage are draining/cooling, whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Because the sausage will still have some fat on it, I found that I needed less oil in the vinaigrette and slightly more vinegar than usual. Adjust the cayenne to your heat preference.
Combine the chopped vegetables, drained pasta, and cooked sausage in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top and stir to coat. Do not rinse the pasta with water to loosen it after it cools because that will prevent the vinaigrette from grabbing onto it. The pasta will begin to loosen as you stir the vinaigrette in.
Lastly, roughly chop about a 1/3 bunch of parsley and stir it into the salad. The parsley adds a needed freshness to the salad which balances the heavy sausage and tangy vinaigrette.
Plus, it adds a lot of visual appeal. Serve the pasta salad either warm or cold! It gets better with every day as the vinaigrette soaks in and all of the flavors mingle!