I grew up thinking that whatever pasta is cooked; should be eaten right away. I have always hated leftover spaghettis with dehydrated or saggy noodles and I just stuck with the idea not to bother trying to save left over pastas. But with my busy schedule, anything that can come in frozen to be popped into the microwave in no time is awesome.
I love pasta salads as they bring variety to my boring menu, but can you freeze a salad? The simple answer is yes, and I will explain to you why you can, and why you should!
Anything that contains water can be frozen
Just because they can be frozen does not necessarily mean they will come out tasting great afterwards. All fresh produce, may it be fruits, vegetables, meats or even milk, naturally contains water. If it has water, it can be frozen.
Try to put an uncooked popcorn kernel and pasta stick in the freezer overnight and see if anything happens. I am very sure that you will not find any noticeable change.
Pastas, just like other dried goods, are dehydrated to prolong their shelf life because anything that contains water spoils. Water, as a universal solvent, is also the most natural decomposing agent. Once you cook a pasta, it absorbs water and will now be freezable.
Understanding the nature of the pasta in your pasta salad
Once cooked, the pasta will absorb water and expand to its maximum capacity, or break out, if you will leave it in the water. It has a very fragile body that leaks water out over time. Think of it as a cotton ball: a cotton ball can absorb water, but it is not really capable of keeping the water in.
That is the same concept of pastas. Water slowly but gradually leaks out of the pasta even before it can even get frozen, which makes defrosting it afterwards make it seem rather bland and dry. It does not contain the same amount of water anymore, and most likely, the water is not distributed back evenly enough.
What you can do
- First and foremost, do not overcook your pasta when preparing your pasta salad recipe. Keep it on the firm side, not saggy, as this will give you stronger pasta with better texture afterwards.
- Keep your pasta salad in an airtight container. Each container should only contain enough for one serving. Defrosting and refreezing your pasta salad multiple times will render your effort useless, otherwise.
- If you are planning to warm your pasta, the best option is to steam it rather than pop it into the microwave. While microwaving is the most convenient way to reheat food, it also dries food out. Steaming on the other hand brings much wanted moisture back into your pasta. If microwaving is your preferred option, use the defrost settings. It will take a bit longer but it will definitely taste better.
- You can also opt to freeze your pasta salad dressing separately by putting them in small canisters or even ice cubes. You can then freeze the pasta in a separate box or cook them as needed. A frozen pasta without the sauce is easier to reheat. You can pour boiling water over it in a strainer and it will regain its original state. The main concern with reheating pasta salads, if you ask me, is the risk of spoiling the dressing.
- Try frozen pasta salad recipes. Since they are intended to be cold, you won’t have to thaw it all the way. I like leaving my frozen pasta salad in the fridge overnight, which basically gives it sufficient time to thaw enough to eat by morning. I would also sometimes just grab a box from the freezer and take it with me to work. It is guaranteed to have thawed enough by the time I have to eat it.
Why You Should Freeze Your Pasta Salad
I personally find it hard to gauge the amount of food to cook and I am always left with leftovers that is just such a pity to waste. At the same time, Pasta salads are very versatile and dynamic, and can be cooked with a lot of healthy ingredients.
Since pasta is made out of carbohydrates, it is very filling and will definitely be enough to cover for one meal. There are many pasta salads recipes you can easily make and pack separately so you can have a different pasta salad on each meal throughout the week.
There are also ready-made salad dressings you can use for your pasta salad without having to make them from scratch. They also come in packets, but they usually come in jars, so you can just take whatever you need and refrigerate the rest of the dressing for future use.
To sum it up, pasta salads can be frozen and there are so many good reasons why you should. I hope I was able to help you understand the nature of pasta and how you can freeze it while retaining its edibility. I hope you have found this article useful. Happy eating!