Pasta salad is like a salad of pasta, not a pasta of salad. That means that it is mainly made up of ingredients from pastas, such as chicken, the occasional greens, and of course, a pasta like rigatoni or spaghetti. So, if you were expecting there to be primarily greens or whole vegetables, you might be disappointed.
So can you freeze pasta salad? Yes, you can freeze pasta salad, but in order to do that you need to consider all the ingredients involved. Some pastas freeze for a long time, while some meats can only last a few days. Some meats need to be wrapped in plastic, while some veggies can be fine intermingling with other things.
Because pasta salad can be made of so many layers of food, this means that the defrosting process must be as considerate as the freezing process. The more kinds of food are in the pasta salad, the more intensive the freezing and thawing process will be. So, know well what you have in your pasta salad before getting started.
Considering The Components Of A Pasta Salad
Pasta salads will usually blend three kinds of food into one dish: Pasta, meat, and vegetables. Generally, it is pretty safe to treat these categories as absolute. That is to say, you can treat basically any pasta the same, any meat the same, and any veggies the same. You cannot, however, treat meat like veggies.
When you are freezing pasta salad you are going to want to make preparations for preserving the most vulnerable component of the pasta salad. Generally, meat is the most vulnerable to bacteria and freezing damage, followed distantly by vegetables. Pasta can be ruined in the freezer as well, but not as easily.
Remember that order. Meat is the easiest to ruin, vegetables less so, and pasta less than that. Thus, if you have any meat in a pasta salad, you will want to freeze it with the meat in mind. The process for preserving meat will also preserve vegetables. But the process for preserving the vegetables won’t do the same for meat.
How To Freeze Pasta Salad
There is a process to freezing pasta salads if they contain all three. It is more intensive that any other method, but it also promises to preserve things as best as possible.
First, wrap the pasta in plastic. It can remain in a bowl if you already have it there, but it is not necessary. Be sure to not only wrap it in plastic but keep that plastic airtight. This will keep anything from touching the meat, pasta, or veggies of your pasta salad.
Next, place the wrapped-up salad in a Tupperware container. This redundancy means that not only is the pasta salad guaranteed to not touch anything, but also that nothing floating on the air of the freezer will land in the pasta salad, thereby corrupting it.
Once your pasta salad has been wrapped in plastic and sealed in Tupperware, then it is good to put in the freezer and keep for up to four days. All that work for just four extra days to eat it? Really?
Really. The reason for all of this pomp and circumstance is because of the meat in the pasta salad. Meat is highly susceptible to bacterial infection. In fact, if you were to leave pasta salad out in a room temperature room for more than two hours, it could become infected with salmonella. That is a serious risk.
If there is no meat in your pasta salad, then you can skip the Tupperware. And if there are no veggies either, well, then it is not really a pasta salad. All the same, you can skip the plastic wrap in that case.
How Long Does Pasta Salad Last Frozen?
If you have meat in your pasta salad, then it can last for up to four days. You will probably want to reheat it after three days at most though, as four days is the maximum. If your pasta salad has no meat, then the lifespan increases immensely. Frozen veggies, for the most part, can last for a month.
This is because of the simple fact that less bacteria grows in frozen vegetables. And, in fact, unfrozen vegetables as well. Vegetables, simply put, are far safer than meat. Lacking vegetables, pasta can stay frozen for quite a while as well, sometimes up to a year.
How To Reheat Pasta Salad
Reheating pasta salad can be done in one of two ways: On the stovetop or in the microwave.
The stovetop is the method most commonly used, as it creates a texture and taste most similar to the original pasta salad. Put a low flame on and dump your frozen pasta salad into a nonstick pan. You do not have to thaw your pasta salad beforehand, but you can if you want. Just use a higher flame in that case.
The general rule of thumb for reheating frozen things is that if it is frozen solid, then you cook low and slow. If it has thawed however, you can go high and fast. Cover the pasta salad and leave it for three minutes, coming back to stir every one minute after that. It should be ready in about fifteen minutes.
Reheating in the microwave is, as always, much more simple. Though it is recommended you thaw out your pasta salad first. As with many microwave foods, toss it in and nuke it for three minutes. Take it out after that and stir, then put it back for another two minutes.
Pasta salads are delicious and simple but be sure to never forget that they are multifaceted as well. Just treat their ingredients with respect, and they will do the same to you in return.