Katie Lee’s Smart Tip for Making Pasta Salad in a Hurry

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“Resting time” in recipes is the bane of my existence. I’m a big fan of instant gratification, and I’m constantly forgetting to leave time for things like letting the meat rest or waiting for the cake to be completely cool before attempting to frost it. My puddings are always full of little fingerprints because I’m constantly poking them to see if they’re set yet, even though the recipe says they’ll need another three hours. (I always think they’ll set early. They never do.)

That can be a big problem when making pasta salad, because the pasta needs to be cool before dressing or the salad can fall apart and turn into a gooey, clumpy mess. But it turns out Katie Lee has a quick tip for making pasta salad quickly.

On a recent episode of The Kitchen on the Food Network, Lee was demonstrating the logistics of making a good pasta salad, and she said one good way to get the pasta to cool quickly was to put an empty sheet pan in the refrigerator beforehand until it gets cold.

Watch now: Build a Better Pasta Salad on Food Network

“You want your pasta to get cooled down before you make the salad,” Lee explained. “So if you don’t have time to refrigerate it, you can actually take a sheet pan in the fridge, let it get nice and cold, and then spread out the pasta on the sheet pan, and that’ll cool it down nice and quickly.”

You could also spread the pasta out on a sheet pan and put the whole thing in the refrigerator to cool, but Lee says that takes longer than putting the pasta directly onto an already-cold pan.

That sounds like a neat trick, and it means a person could go right from the “making pasta” phase of the process to the “making pasta salad” without having to sit around and wait for the pasta to cool. Then all you have to do is put the cold pasta in a bowl, add the dressing and any mix-ins, and toss it around to make an easy pasta salad without having to sit around and wait.