California Asian Pasta Salad

California Asian Pasta Salad

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This is a dish that will have everyone at the party asking you for the recipe. Infused with Asian flavors from sesame oil and soy sauce, it has a touch of California as well, tossed with avocados and a raspberry-flavored vinaigrette.

Click here to see 10 Best Summer Pasta Salad Recipes


  • 1 Pound corkscrew pasta
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 Cups spinach, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 Cup toasted, slivered almonds

For the dressing

  • 1/2 Cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 Cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 Tablespoon mango chutney
  • 3/4 Cups raspberry vinaigrette
  • 1/8 Teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 Cups diced avocado

California Pasta Salad

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious pasta salad to bring to a potluck or picnic, this California pasta salad is perfect for you! It’s made with fresh summer veggies and topped off with zesty Italian dressing.

California Pasta Salad

Published on August 26, 2017 - Updated on January 15, 2021 by Chef Rodney - Leave a Comment - This post may contain affiliate links.

I don't think I have ever been to a BBQ that didn't have macaroni salad, potato salad or some coleslaw. Those are the type of cold side dishes you would expect at a summer BBQ. But this California Pasta Salad is my new favorite salad to bring to a BBQ.

This recipe is a nice variation for your typical pasta salad. I made this for a potluck recently and got rave reviews. Make sure you refrigerate the salad for at least 3 hours before serving to allow the dressing marinate the pasta and veggies.

For more great recipes like this one, I suggest you check these recipes out:

Recipe Summary

  • 1 (8 ounce) package spaghetti
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (Optional)
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas (Optional)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl and toss with olive oil.

Whisk soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame seeds, chili sauce, and sesame oil together in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Toss soy sauce mixture with pasta top with green onions, red bell pepper, and snap peas. Refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight to allow flavors to blend. Toss again before serving.

What are the best mix ins for pasta salad?

I really wanted to keep this Asian pasta salad super light – as you can probably tell from the dressing ingredient list above – so you won’t be surprised that today’s pasta salad is full of:

  • Shredded carrots
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Red bell pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Peanuts
  • Spaghetti – you only use 1/2 pound, so this is really a very light pasta salad


  • 10 to 12 ounces rice noodles or fettuccine-style pasta noodles
  • 1 cup small cooked shrimp, thawed and drained if frozen
  • 1 red or green chili, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 3 spring (green) onions, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh coriander/cilantro, lightly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, lightly chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts or cashews, unsalted, and left whole or lightly chopped
  • 1/3 cup lime juice (about 2 limes, juiced)
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons chili sauce, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

California Pizza Kitchen's recipe for Thai Crunch Salad

Describing the Thai Crunch Salad served at California Pizza Kitchen as "probably the best salad I have ever had," she offered a few details.

"The blend of items in the salad is a delicious combination. But the peanut dressing combined with the lime dressing is what makes the salad," Deborah wrote.

"A friend and I tried to figure out the ingredients, but didn't get it quite right," she reported, ending with, "If you could get this recipe, I would greatly appreciate it." Landing the recipe - which is far lengthier than one might expect when plowing into the salad - involved contacting the company's California-based marketing department. As it turns out, the recipe is available in the newly released CPK Family Cookbook that is sold in the restaurants nationwide and online at www.cpk.com.

Served at the restaurant at both lunch and dinner, the Thai Crunch Salad ($9.49 for a half salad $12.99 for a full salad) is one in a medley of salad options served at the eatery that was founded in 1985 by attorneys Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfield, who are authors of the new cookbook.

Despite the restaurant's name, there is far more than pizza served. On the salad menu are: the Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad Grilled Vegetable Salad Original Chopped Salad CPK Cobb Salad Classic Caesar Salad Tricolor Salad Pizza Mediterranean Salad Waldorf Chicken Salad Miso Seafood Salad Chinese Chicken Salad, and Field Greens Salad.

The recipe came with this explanation: "We really wanted to re-experience the taste of one of our most popular original pizzas, the Thai Chicken Pizza, but with some added crunch and in a new format: a salad."

After some experimentation, the restaurant's founders came up with what they believe is "the perfect combination of crisp wontons, crisp rice sticks and peanuts, as well as our Thai Peanut Dressing," according to the cookbook.

This is also the first salad that included edamame (soybeans), now a very popular ingredient.

Be advised, however, that the recipe comes with a warning: "Caution: This salad may be habit forming!"

Try it and you'll know why, because you'll soon be trying to figure out a way to sneak back to CPK for yet another taste.

California Pizza Kitchen's two Birmingham locations open daily at 11 a.m.

Is there some special dish that you've tasted in a Birmingham-area restaurant that youɽ like to try to duplicate? Send your request to: Food Detective, The Birmingham News, P.O. Box 2553, Birmingham, AL 35202 fax Food Detective, 325-2494 or e-mail [email protected]

California Pizza Kitchen's Thai Crunch Salad
(Serves 4)

1 head Napa cabbage, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 small head red cabbage, cored and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
2 bunches scallions (green onions), thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, cored and julienned
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked shelled edamame (soybeans)
2 cups roasted peanuts
4 breasts grilled garlic chicken
1 cup lime-cilantro dressing
4 cups fried wonton strips
2 cups crisp rice sticks
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch dice (optional)
1/2 cup Thai peanut dressing

Place cabbages, carrots, scallions, cucumber, cilantro, edamame and peanuts in very large mixing bowl and toss to mix.
Cut chicken into ½-inch cubes and add to mixing bowl.
Pour lime-cilantro dressing into bowl and toss to mix thoroughly. Gently toss in fried wonton strips. Divide salad among four, very large, chilled serving plates and top with crisp rice sticks.
Sprinkle crisp rice sticks over top of each salad, then use a squeeze bottle or syrup dispenser to drizzle Thai peanut dressing over rice sticks.
If serving the salads with avocado, distribute over the salads. Serve immediately.

Lime Cilantro Dressing
Makes 1 cup

1/4 small red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place bell pepper and cilantro leaves in the work bowl of a food processor, then add remaining ingredients except for olive oil. Process until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds.
With food processor on, add olive oil in a thin stream and continue processing for 1 minute after all the oil has been added there should be no oil on the surface. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week (whisk before using).

Thai Peanut Dressing
Makes ½ cup

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon (scant) cayenne pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon canola oil

Whisk together peanut butter, vinegar, honey, water and soy sauce. Stir in sugar, salt, cayenne and red pepper flakes. Add oil and continue whisking until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to five days. Bring to room temperature and whisk before using.

Big Mac Pasta Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Big Mac Pasta Salad is a fun twist on a summer side dish! Easy cheeseburger pasta salad with McDonald’s special sauce, topped with sesame seed bun croutons!

When it’s time to fire up the grill for a backyard party, you can’t go wrong with an Easy Pasta Salad. This cheeseburger twist takes a classic, easy Side Dish Recipe to the next level!


Copycat Recipes like McDonald’s Big Mac Sauce aren’t just for recreating original fast food favorites. You can use the sauce in so many creative ways like Big Mac Sloppy Joes, Big Mac and Cheese, or this delicious pasta salad! This burger themed salad, with all the Big Mac toppings, is sure to be a hit at your next cookout or summer party.

The copycat Big Mac Sauce is really the star of this pasta salad. Unlike similar recipes, or even Big Mac Salads with no pasta, this is a spot on McDonald’s special sauce. It has just the right amount of mayonnaise, relish, and vinegar, plus French dressing so you don’t need a bunch of spices. For the best taste, make the sauce night before and allow all the flavors to soak in.

Big Mac Pasta Salad is a fun potluck or party dish that will surprise and delight everyone! From the tender pasta cooked just right to the seasoned ground beef, to the amazing dressing, this side dish will be a hit. We loaded Big Mac Pasta Salad with all the fixings you’d find on the famous double cheeseburger, but feel free to adjust to your favorite burger toppings too.

The second best thing about Big Mac Pasta Salad after the special sauce is the homemade croutons! Sesame seed buns get diced into bite-sized pieces and tossed in oil and little bit of garlic salt. Then they are baked until browned and crispy for the ultimate crunchy salad topping, even better than Texas Toast croutons. Make extras and freeze for up to 6 months!

If you want a homemade McDonald’s dinner night, you need to serve this Big Mac Pasta Salad with Big Mac Sloppy Joes or grilled burgers. This pasta salad makes a light summer lunch with a side of Fruit Salad. You can leave out the hamburger meat and serve it as a side with BBQ favorites like Pulled Pork Sandwiches!

Serving Size: 334g
Servings: 6

Amount per Serving* % Daily Value
Total Fat11g14%
Saturated Fat1.5g8%
Dietary Fiber10g36%
Total Sugar6g
Vitamin A 15%
Vitamin C 70%
Calcium 77mg 6%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 417mg 8%

This colorful, delicious dish combines a variety of vegetables and seasonings with ZENB Penne Pasta. You can use the vegetables recommended in the recipe or easily swap them out for your favorite in-season vegetables. Enjoy your California Penne Pasta Salad!


Step 1

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Drain, rinse and let cool.

Mix together the cooked spaghetti, carrots, peppers, bean sprouts, cucumbers, scallions, cilantro, napa cabbage, purple cabbage and kale. Add the peanuts and toss together.

Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, sesame oil and garlic in a medium bowl.

Pour the dressing over the salad and mix together with tongs or your hands. If the salad seems a little dry, just mix up a little more of the wet ingredients of the dressing and throw it in. It's a very organic process.


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