Who says pasta salad is just a summertime potluck thing? Our Fall Pasta Salad is brimming with all the best flavors of autumn.
Roasted veggies, crisp apples, sweet dried cranberries, and so much more. This is one of those salads where every bite brings a new combination of flavors.
Give this one a sure try when the temperatures start to drop. Hint, hint, this fall pasta salad would be a great surprise on holiday spreads…
Fall is typically a time when we lean towards those cozy comfort foods. Soups like Tuscan White Bean Soup and Ham Bone Soup are sure hits, as are casseroles like our Lancashire Hotpot and Johnny Marzetti.
But it’s also a time for big family get togethers like Thanksgiving. And one of the best things to take to big gatherings is pasta salad.
Make a huge bowlful, and everyone can munch endlessly. This year, give a pass to the usual casserole side dishes, and surprise everyone with this unique pasta salad.
Or, save it for yourself and have lunches and easy dinners for days!
Why this Recipe Works
- Flavor Balance: This Fall Pasta Salad masterfully combines the smoky flavors of bacon and smoked cheddar with the earthiness of autumn veggies like butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. Add a splash of sweetness from maple syrup and tartness from apple and cranberries, and you’ve got a culinary symphony in a bowl!
- Texture Variety: No one-note crunch here! You get the crispiness of bacon, the chewiness of pasta, and a touch of juiciness from apple cubes. Pumpkin seeds add a final, surprising crunch that elevates the dish to a whole new level.
- Seasonal Ingredients: This dish celebrates fall in every bite. It showcases seasonal produce, and adds a festive twist with the inclusion of dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.
- Versatility: This pasta salad is a crowd-pleaser that can fit into any meal plan. Serve it as a main course, a side dish, or even make it ahead for your holiday get-togethers. Plus, it can be easily adapted to be vegetarian by omitting the bacon.
This is a very versatile salad. We’ll give you some variations later in the post, but here is what we used today:
- Pasta – We used tricolor rotini. The shape is great for pasta salads, and the colors give a festive feel.
- Vegetables – Butternut squash, broccoli and brussels sprouts.
- Chick peas – Roasted with the veggies.
- Apple – Granny smith for tartness.
- Dried cranberries – For some sweetness.
- Cheese – This time we used smoked cheddar, which added unique flavor.
- Bacon – You can omit, or serve on the side, if you’ll have vegetarian guests.
- Pumpkin seeds – Some nice crunch.
- Dressing – Olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
How to Make Fall Pasta Salad
Step 1. Roast the veggies” Cut the butternut squash into 3/4 inch cubes, halve the brussels sprouts, cut the broccoli into florets, and drain and rinse the chick peas. Arrange all on a baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
Bake for 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 400°F. Test for doneness. As ovens can vary, add more time if necessary.
Step 2. Cook the pasta: Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water according to the directions on the package to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Step 3. Make the dressing: Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
Step 4. Prep remaining ingredients: Fry the bacon, then crumble. Dice the apple and cut the cheese into cubes.
Step 5. Finish the salad: Now all that’s left is to assemble the pasta salad. In a large bowl, toss pasta, veggies, chick peas, apple, cranberries, cheese and dressing until well combined.
Top with bacon and pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately, or cover with cling wrap and refrigerate.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Roasting Veggies: Don’t rush the roasting process. The longer you roast, the sweeter and more caramelized your vegetables become. It’s a game-changer for flavor!
- Bacon Bits: If you’re short on time, you can use store-bought bacon bits as a quick substitute. However, freshly fried and crumbled bacon brings out a rich smokiness that’s unbeatable!
- Apple Browning: To prevent the apple cubes from browning, toss them in a little lemon juice before adding to the salad.
- Cheese Storage: If you’re making the salad ahead of time, consider adding the cheese just before serving to maintain its texture and flavor.
- Taste Test: Always taste the salad before serving. You may find you want to adjust the salt, add a little more dressing, or even toss in some extra pumpkin seeds for crunch.
- Serving Temperature: This salad is delicious both warm and cold. If you’ve stored it in the fridge, consider letting it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving to enhance the flavors.
Fall Pasta Salad Variations
The varieties are only limited to your imagination. Some ideas:
- Try different fall vegetables. Think carrots, green beans, cauliflower, acorn squash, or even pumpkin.
- Change up the cheese. Regular cheddar, smoked gouda, goat cheese, feta or blue cheese would all give different flavors to the salad.
- Use different nuts or seeds. Pecans, candied pecans, slivered almonds, hazelnuts or sunflower seeds would all go well here.
- Switch up the protein. Tired of bacon? Add ham, grilled chicken or even smoked tofu to keep the smoky essence but change the protein profile.
- Alternate dressings. While the maple-balsamic dressing is to die for, a creamy avocado or a garlicky Caesar dressing can also add a new twist to this fall classic.
Leftovers and Storage
Fall pasta salad is great refrigerated for 3-4 days in an airtight container. This also makes it a great make ahead option to bring to holiday celebrations.
Just because summer is behind us, there’s no need to forget everyone’s favorite pasta salads. Give this fall pasta salad a try.
Experiment. Try different variations. Make it your own in time for the holidays.
Pin or bookmark this great recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you!
Fall Pasta Salad, in our Gypsy Bowl… enjoy!
- 1/2 butternut squash, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
- 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt, to taste,
- pepper, to taste
- pinch of paprika
- 12oz pasta (small shapes like rotini or bowties)
- 4oz smoked cheddar cheese
- 1/2 apple, cubed
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 6 slices bacon
- pumpkin seeds, for garnish
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Arrange squash, broccoli, brussels sprouts and chick peas on a baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper. Brush with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water according to the directions on the package to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Fry the bacon, then crumble.
- Dice the apple and cut the cheese into cubes.
- Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
- In a large bowl, toss pasta, veggies, chick peas, apple, cranberries, cheese and dressing until well combined.
- Top with bacon and pumpkin seeds.
- Serve immediately, or cover with cling wrap and refrigerate.
- If you're in a hurry, you can use bacon bits to speed things up.
- This salad is delicious both warm and cold. If you’ve stored it in the fridge, consider letting it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving to enhance the flavors.
- Fall pasta salad is great refrigerated for 3-4 days in an airtight container. This also makes it a great make ahead option to bring to holiday celebrations.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 298Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 15mgSodium 306mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 5gSugar 9gProtein 9g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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