By Vanessa Greaves
Pictured: Chicken Club Pasta Salad | Photo by christina

No more wimpy pasta salads!

Pasta salad is on the menu in a big way this summer. Not content with mere side dish status, the best pasta salads are busting out main-dish moves with bold tastes and textures. Take a look at some of our favorite main dish pasta salad recipes to make this summer.

Related: See how to make homemade pasta salad as good as it can be.

Bold Move: Go Clubbing

Chicken Club Pasta Salad

Why do you order a club sandwich? Because you want to cram all those layers of smoky, meaty, cheesy, crunchy, creamy satisfaction into every bite. This chicken pasta salad is all that, and you can make a huge bowlful to share. "A good idea for hot summer nights as a cool dinner dish. My family LOVED it," says mad4nc.

Bold Move: Speak Mandarin

Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad

Juicy mandarin oranges, crisp and colorful raw vegetables and leafy spinach are tossed with cooked pasta and leftover chicken in a ginger-kissed rice vinegar dressing. If you use the liquid from the canned mandarin oranges when you whisk up the dressing, you can reduce or omit the added sugar. "A wonderful summer salad!" says Rhonda Jay. "A light and healthy salad which stands on its own without the need for anything else on the side."

Photo by abapplez

Bold Move: It's All Greek

Greek Pasta Salad I

Fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and sweet bell peppers mix it up with sharp, salty feta cheese, olives, and pepperoni, while a homemade vinaigrette loaded with Mediterranean herbs brings it all together. You'll want to make the salad a day ahead so the flavors can get to know each other better. "The first time I made it was for a block party, and after tasting it, my husband wanted me to make something else to take so he could have this all for himself," says CMACINTYRE.

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

Bold Move: Double the Basil

Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad

In this Italian pasta salad, you get two big hits of basil's pungent green flavor when fresh basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese are tossed with a zesty basil pesto sauce. "Super tasty, and very healthy," says Alaniwhat. She used gluten-free rotini, and it was a huge hit.

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

More: You'll love these top-rated pesto pasta salads.

Bold Move: Bacon + Ranch for the Win

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

A generous helping of crispy, smoky bacon is what sets this salad apart from others that just sprinkle it on a bit. Cool and creamy ranch dressing pulls the rest of the ingredients together for a BLT pasta salad that's definitely not for timid taste buds.

More: Check out homemade ranch dressing recipes.

Bold Move: Customize a Classic

Awesome Pasta Salad

This is the easy pasta salad recipe everyone makes their own. They add this, tweak that, and pretty soon they've created a signature salad their friends beg them to bring. What will you add?

Photo by The Sporadic Cook

More: Check out our collection of pasta salad recipes

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