Home > Salads > Asian Pasta Salad Asian Pasta Salad July 3, 2020 | 27 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. This Asian Pasta Salad is loaded with tender pasta, fresh baby spinach, crisp red peppers, toasted sliced almonds, sweet and juicy mandarin oranges, crunchy carrots, and fresh herbs. We toss this salad with an addictive sesame-soy sauce dressing that is the perfect complement to all the ingredients. Rotisserie chicken adds protein, but it’s optional, so this salad can be made vegetarian! We love this pasta salad served with these Asian Chicken Tacos — it’s a match made in heaven! This is a step away from mayo-laden pasta salads (Hi, still love you guys too!) to a fresh and light Asian-inspired dish. We love the crisp textures, the fresh flavors, and the insanely good dressing. While pasta salads can often feel heavy and one-note, this salad is anything but that. It’s got plenty of fresh veggies (and fruit — thanks to the mandarins!) and the dressing has plenty of components — soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, and sesame oil to give it depth of flavor and textural components. Asian Pasta Salad recipe tips Salt the pasta well as it cooks, since salting is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. As a rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt to 4 cups of water, so about 1 tablespoon of salt when cooking the rotini noodles for this salad. Use a small, textured pasta. Choose pasta that has plenty of nooks and crannies to hold the delicious sesame-soy sauce dressing. If you can’t find rotini, I recommend miniature shells, mini farfalle, or fusilli. Cook the pasta to al dente. Since the pasta sits in dressing, it has a tendency to get soggy if it has been overcooked. On the flip side, pasta becomes a little firmer when served cold, so don’t undercook it! I cook it right to the package directions of what al dente is (for rotini, that is 7-8 minutes). Make the dressing in advance. The flavors meld together and intensify as the salad chills, plus it does taste better chilled. Rotisserie chicken Rotisserie chicken adds protein and staying power to this salad, but you can omit it for a quicker prep or if this salad will be more of a side dish than a main course. You can omit the chicken to make a vegetarian salad. I like using rotisserie chicken for a quick prep time. And since the rotisserie chicken is seasoned, it lends more flavor to this salad. If you aren’t purchasing a rotisserie chicken, you can make your own rotisserie chicken and use the leftover meat in this salad. Alternatively, you can use leftover grilled chicken or any other leftover chicken; just make sure to chop it into bite-sized pieces. I’ll usually buy (or make) a rotisserie chicken and use it in one meal (like these Rotisserie Chicken Tacos or Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps) and set aside 1 and 1/2 cups of the chicken to use in Asian Pasta Salad later in the week. Variations Add a creamy element. My favorite creamy element is avocado. Since avocados don’t hold up well in the salad, if you add them, add them to individual plates right before serving instead of stirring them into the salad bowl. Use a roasted red pepper. While a raw red pepper is great in this salad and it’s what I typically use, you can try roasted red peppers for a softer, smokier flavor. You can buy jars of roasted red peppers at the store; they are usually near things like pickles, capers, and artichoke hearts. Use fresh clementines. In place of the canned mandarins, peel and segment some clementines and use those. Replace the spinach with chopped baby kale. (Read about how to prepare it in this Kale Couscous Salad!) How to toast sliced almonds Spread the sliced almonds into an even layer in a small, dry (no need to add oil) skillet over medium heat and stir them around a bit until they are fragrant and toasted to your liking. Watch the almonds carefully; they can go from perfectly toasted to burnt in an instant! I like to remove them as soon as they begin to smell fragrant. They make the perfect crunchy topping for this Asian Pasta Salad. Storing Asian Pasta Salad This salad doesn’t sit or store well once dressed. The dressing will wilt the spinach, the veggies soften, and the almonds get soggy. You can make this salad in advance; store everything separately and toss together right before serving. Asian Pasta Salad does not freeze or thaw well. More pasta salads Greek Pasta Salad with a Greek-inspired vinaigrette Broccoli Grape Pasta Salad with a creamy dressing Pasta Salad with a two-ingredient zesty dressing Italian Pasta Salad with an Italian-inspired vinaigrette Orzo Pasta Salad with a lemon vinaigrette FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Asian Pasta Salad 5 from 8 votes - Review this recipe Asian Pasta Salad is loaded with tender pasta, fresh baby spinach, crisp red peppers, toasted sliced almonds, sweet and juicy mandarin oranges, crunchy carrots, and fresh herbs. The salad is tossed with an addictive sesame-soy sauce dressing that is the perfect complement to all the ingredients. We like to add in some rotisserie chicken for added protein, but it's optional, so this salad can be vegetarian! SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Asian Pasta Salad 5 from 8 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Asian Pasta Salad is loaded with tender pasta, fresh baby spinach, crisp red peppers, toasted sliced almonds, sweet and juicy mandarin oranges, crunchy carrots, and fresh herbs. The salad is tossed with an addictive sesame-soy sauce dressing that is the perfect complement to all the ingredients. We like to add in some rotisserie chicken for added protein, but it's optional, so this salad can be vegetarian! Course Salad, Vegetarian Cuisine Chinese Prep Time 30 minutes Total Time 30 minutes Servings 8 servings Calories 452kcal Author Chelsea Lords Cost $6.23 Ingredients▢ 1 package (16 ounces) rotini pasta▢ 4.5 cups (5 ounces) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped▢ 1 and 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken▢ 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped▢ 1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges▢ 1/2 cup shredded carrots▢ 1/3 cup fresh green onions, chopped▢ 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped▢ Optional: 1/3 cup sliced almonds (toasted if desired)Dressing▢ 1/2 cup vegetable oil▢ 1/3 cup soy sauce▢ 1/3 cup rice vinegar▢ 1 teaspoon sesame oil▢ 3 tablespoons white sugar▢ 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger▢ 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper▢ 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seedsUS - Metric USMetric InstructionsPASTA: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, and rinse under cold water until cool. Transfer to a large bowl and immediately toss with 3-4 tablespoons of the dressing (see next step).DRESSING: While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. Combine vegetable oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, pepper, and sesame seeds in a mason jar. Place the lid on and shake until combined.ASSEMBLE SALAD: Add the coarsely chopped spinach, shredded rotisserie chicken, chopped red pepper, drained mandarin oranges, shredded carrots, chopped green onions, and fresh cilantro to the large bowl with the cooled pasta.DRESS SALAD: Toss all the ingredients together gently and then coat with the dressing as desired. Enjoy immediately. (This salad doesn't store well with the dressing, so only dress what will be eaten right away). If desired, top with sliced toasted almonds (Note 1). Video Recipe NotesNote 1: Toasting the almonds: If desired, toast the almonds. Spread the sliced almonds into an even layer in a small, dry (no need to add oil ) skillet over medium heat and stir them around a bit until they are fragrant and toasted to your liking. Watch the almonds carefully; they can go from perfectly toasted to burnt in an instant! I like to remove them as soon as they begin to smell fragrant. Nutrition FactsServing: 8servings | Calories: 452kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.2g | Protein: 26.4g | Fat: 29.3g | Sodium: 500.8mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 9.4g We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed. DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.