This creamy pasta salad is what dreams are made of! It’s so comforting and delicious, I’d be surprised if you don’t finish it all in one sitting. The Turkish (or Greek) yogurt makes it really creamy, which is a nice contrast with the crunchy pickles. Plus with the addition of dill, mayonnaise and roasted red peppers, it’s a real burst of flavor! This recipe is a keeper for barbecues, picnics, or trying to cool down on a hot summer day! It’s so good it converted me to cold pasta salads.
COLD PASTA SALAD, A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC (for me)
I’ll be honest, I’ve hated pasta salad for most of my life. I’m going to blame it on my Frenchness and all my food-related principles (Pasta is supposed to be eaten hot as soon as it’s ready, pasta salad are dry tasteless abominations, blablabla…..). It took me moving to Turkey to find out that a creamy pasta salad can actually be amazing. This recipe is from my Turkish mother-in-law who always makes it for family gatherings. I tasted it with an open-mind because I didn’t think it was made with pasta. They kept calling it kuskus, which means semolina (couscous) in French, leading me to think it was going to be like a tabbouleh salad (which I love).
ANYWAY, I tasted it, I loved it, I asked for the recipe and I was dumbfounded when I found out kuskus was pasta. I didn’t want to believe it, how could I shatter a life-long belief that pasta salad was a disgrace to all pasta dishes out there? But I was forced to confront reality after checking dozens of kuskus packages and their ingredient lists. I was actually enjoying a cold pasta salad, NAY I was obsessed with it and I couldn’t wait to share this creamy pasta salad recipe with my friends. Pasta or not, it is one of the most comforting mezze I ever had.
Now, I am not saying I’m going to throw rigatoni or tagliatelle in my salad BUT I’m okay eating pasta salads with the types of pasta I wouldn’t eat hot anyway. Okay, I swear I am done with my weird rant about the use of pasta in salads. Maybe I feel a bit too strongly about food.
QUICK AND EASY RECIPE
Making this creamy pasta salad takes no time and is very simple. As for all the Turkish mezze made with yogurt the longer it can rest in the fridge the better it will taste! So, don’t hesitate to make more, double the quantity and you’ll see how the taste improves over time. You can keep it for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Sometimes kuskus is used in Turkey to make pilaf (instead of rice or bulgur) but on the Agean coast, where I used to live, it’s most commonly used for makarna salatası (pasta salad). There is no need to go to a Turkish grocer to buy kuskus, you might find it at your local supermarket under the name giant couscous, Israeli couscous, pearl couscous, pearl pasta, or grandine. If not, you can use short-cut pasta you would normally add to your soup, like orzo or pastina. The pasta will have less of a bite but it’ll do just fine.
➝ Which Turkish yogurt should I use? Okay so you went to a Turkish grocery store, you’re in front of the refrigerated section and you’re wondering which yogurt to buy. They are basically 3 types of yogurt in Turkey. Don’t worry whichever yogurt you pick you won’t go wrong, they all taste pretty similar but their texture might differ.
- Kaymaksız yoğurt is the most traditional yoğurt and you can use it for any Turkish recipe or spoon it next to pilafs and stuffed vegetables. It’s tangier and thicker than Greek yogurt.
- Kaymaklı yoğurt is the same yogurt but with a thin ‘skin’ of dried yogurt on top. You can also use this yogurt as long as you scrape off the dried yogurt on top.
- Süzme yoğurt is thicker than both kaymaksız and kaymaklı yogurts and it’s the preferred yogurt while making mezzes. If you use süzme yoğurt for this creamy pasta salad, you’ll have to whisk it with 1 tsp of water to thin it out a bit.
If you don’t live near a Turkish grocery store, use Greek yogurt which is more widely available. Your creamy pasta salad will taste great too!
Are you looking for other cold Turkish mezzes? Here are some of my favorites:
- Green lentil salad (Mercimek salatası)
- Stuffed vine leaves (Yaprak sarma)
- Carrots with yogurt (Havuç tarator)
This Turkish pasta salad made with yogurt is super creamy and comforting. Add sliced red peppers, pickles, mayo & dill and you get a real burst of flavors! Here’s a keeper for BBQs, picnics, or just trying to cool down on a hot summer day!
- 180g grandine pasta or pearl couscous (1 ¾ cup), dry (or any short-cut pasta you would use for soups)
- 150g roasted red peppers from a jar (5.5 oz), drained
- 5 big pickles, or more according to taste
- half a bunch of dill
- 200g Turkish yogurt (¾ cup + 1 tbsp), or you can use Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- Fill a large pot with water and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water is boiling, add 2 tsp of salt and the pasta to the pot. Cook according to the package instructions, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
- When the pasta is ready (I prefer them still a bit firm in the center, but you do you), tip into a colander over the sink, cool under running water, and drain really well.
- Finely chop the red peppers, pickles, and dill.
- Whisk the Turkish yogurt and mayonnaise together in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the drained pasta and the chopped ingredients to the bowl. Toss everything together until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
- Tip the creamy pasta salad into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The longer it stays in the fridge the better the creamy pasta salad will taste!
It will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Don’t forget to serve this creamy pasta salad fridge-cold!
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 583
- Fat: 8.9g
Keywords: summer, BBQ’s, picnic, quick