Kitchn Love Letters

The 1-Ingredient Pasta Salad Dressing I Wish I’d Tried Sooner (I Bet It’s in Your Pantry!)

published Jun 5, 2024
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close up of pasta salad
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Summer is nearly here, which means it’s time to focus on chilling: Chilling by the pool (or your preferred body of water), chilling in a park, chilling on a stoop. Wherever you choose to chill as the weather warms up, you’re going to need chill-friendly foods — and by that I mean pasta salad

Portable, make-ahead-friendly, endlessly riffable, pasta salad is the ideal summer food for laid-back gatherings. My favorite way to put together a presentable cold noodle dish that’s low on effort involves a pantry staple: pico de gallo. I especially love the jarred pico de gallo from SOMOS, but you can use your favorite store-bought pico to the same effect.

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

What’s So Great About SOMOS Pico de Gallo?

I’ve sampled my fair share of bright, chunky grocery store pico de gallos, including those in the refrigerated section — and I’ve often been disappointed. I expect juicy, full-flavored tomatoes, crisp white onion, and a pop of grassy jalapeño. Usually, they’re so over-sweetened and, frankly, have been sitting around for so long that they taste more like a sugary soup than the vibrant, fresh dip I’m craving. 

That’s why I prefer the shelf-stable jarred pico from SOMOS. For starters, I can stock up and keep jars in the pantry for last-minute pasta salads and taco nights. But beyond the reliability of preserved pico, this sauce from SOMOS also hits all the right flavor notes. The tomatoes bring umami and a hint of natural sweetness, the onions offer a bite that’s not overpowering, and the jalapeños are assertive without being unkind to your taste buds (or sweat glands). It’s lighter and fresher-tasting than more standard store-bought salsas and has a chunky texture that won’t get lost in pasta salad. 

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

What’s the Best Way to Use SOMOS Pico de Gallo?

While I love scooping up chilled pools of this pico with sturdy chips, during the summer you’re more likely to find me tossing the jar with some chilled pasta before a picnic with friends or a dinner-on-the-couch night. At its most basic, you can make a complete pasta salad with little more than a box of short-cut pasta (fusilli, elbows, bowties, whatever’s on hand — other than penne) and a jar of pico. Or you can upgrade the dish with a few additions. 

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

I like crumbled queso fresco or feta to add some richness, diced avocado, and fresh cilantro. For sweetness, you can toss in fresh corn kernels (raw is fine) or for more heft, a can of rinsed black or pinto beans. 

Credit: Lizzy Briskin

To really let the flavors develop, let the salad sit overnight in the fridge. The beautiful thing about this pasta salad is that whatever you add, the pico brings enough flavor and moisture to produce a guaranteed crowd-pleaser all summer long, wherever you chill. 

Buy: SOMOS Pico De Gallo Medium Chunky Salsa, $10 for 2 (11.6-ounce) jars at SOMOS