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Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Recipe

Indulge in this quick and easy to prepare Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad. The harmonious blend of flavors from the pasta, seafood, vegetables, and the tangy Catalina dressing gives a refreshing twist to the traditional pasta salad. Ideal for picnics, potlucks, or a light lunch on a warm summer day.

Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Recipe
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You are likely to find most of the ingredients in your pantry. However, the Catalina salad dressing might be one you need to look out for in your local supermarket. It's a tangy, red salad dressing, somewhat similar to French dressing but zestier.

Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Ingredients

Elbow macaroni: A type of short pasta with a hollow center. It absorbs flavors well and adds a nice texture to the salad.

Tuna: Adds a rich source of protein to the salad. Canned tuna in water is typically used in pasta salads.

Shrimp: Small shrimp adds a subtly sweet and briny flavor. They also contribute a nice texture contrast.

Onion: Provides a crunch and a strong flavor that balances the creamy and tangy dressing.

Green bell pepper: Adds a slightly sweet, mild pepper flavor and a crunchy texture.

Celery: Another crunch element, with a fresh, slightly bitter taste.

Garlic salt: A blend of salt and garlic powder that adds a savory depth to the salad.

Catalina salad dressing: A store-bought, tangy tomato-based dressing that gives a unique flavor to this salad.

Sweet pickle relish: Adds a sweet and tangy contrast to the salad.

Mayonnaise: Gives a creamy texture and rich flavor to the salad, and helps bind the ingredients together.

One reader, Fowler Mclemore says:

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This tangy Catalina pasta salad recipe is a game-changer! The combination of flavors is simply delightful. The tangy dressing perfectly complements the seafood and veggies. It's a refreshing and satisfying dish that's perfect for any occasion. Highly recommend giving it a try!

Fowler Mclemore

Key Techniques for Making Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad

How to cook pasta: Boil a large pot of lightly salted water. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, then drain. Run under cold water to chill, then drain again.

How to prepare seafood: Drain the tuna and shrimp. If using fresh shrimp, peel and devein them.

How to chop vegetables: Finely chop the onion, green bell pepper, and celery.

How to mix the salad: Toss together the cooked pasta, tuna, shrimp, onions, green pepper, celery, garlic salt, salad dressing, and relish. Add enough mayonnaise to thin out the dressing, if desired.

How to serve: Portion the tangy Catalina pasta salad into serving dishes and enjoy.

How To Make Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad

Tuna, shrimp, and pasta makes up this refreshing pasta salad! They’re also combined with crunchy veggies and topped with tomato-like Catalina dressing.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes



  • 16ozelbow macaroni,(1 package)
  • 5oztuna,(1 can)
  • 6ozsmall shrimp,(1 can), drained
  • ¼cuponion,chopped
  • 1green bell pepper,chopped
  • ¾cupcelery,chopped
  • 1pinchgarlic salt
  • 4tbspCatalina salad dressing
  • tbspsweet pickle relish
  • 3tbspmayonnaise


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

  2. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, then drain. Run under cold water to chill, drain again.

  3. Toss together the pasta, tuna, shrimp, onions, green pepper, celery, garlic salt, salad dressing, and relish. Add enough mayonnaise to thin out dressing, if desired.

  4. Serve and enjoy.


  • Calories: 328.31kcal
  • Fat: 9.39g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.61g
  • Trans Fat: 0.01g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 2.40g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 4.86g
  • Carbohydrates: 45.16g
  • Fiber: 2.33g
  • Sugar: 3.22g
  • Protein: 14.87g
  • Cholesterol: 35.81mg
  • Sodium: 194.07mg
  • Calcium: 30.59mg
  • Potassium: 287.60mg
  • Iron: 1.02mg
  • Vitamin A: 21.09µg
  • Vitamin C: 12.38mg

Pro Tip for Perfecting Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad

When preparing the elbow macaroni, ensure not to overcook it. The pasta should be cooked al dente, which means it should still have a slight bite to it. This is crucial because the pasta will continue to absorb the catalina salad dressing and other flavors from the ingredients, and if it's overcooked, it could become mushy and lose its texture. Also, rinsing the pasta under cold water not only stops the cooking process but also helps to remove the excess starch, which can make your salad sticky.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing This Pasta Salad Recipe

Prep ahead: Chop vegetables and cook pasta in advance to save time when assembling the salad.

Use canned seafood: Opt for canned tuna and shrimp to cut down on prep time and make the recipe more convenient.

One-bowl mixing: Combine all the ingredients in one large bowl to minimize cleanup and streamline the preparation process.

Double batch: Consider making a larger quantity of the salad to have leftovers for quick and easy meals throughout the week.

Chill while prepping: While chopping ingredients, let the cooked pasta chill in the refrigerator to save time on cooling it later.

Substitute Ingredients For Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Recipe

  • elbow macaroni - Substitute with penne pasta: Penne pasta has a similar shape and texture, making it a suitable substitute for elbow macaroni in this recipe.

  • tuna - Substitute with canned salmon: Canned salmon can provide a similar texture and flavor profile to tuna in the pasta salad.

  • small shrimp - Substitute with cooked chicken: Cooked chicken can add a similar protein element to the salad while providing a different flavor and texture.

  • onion - Substitute with shallots: Shallots offer a milder, slightly sweeter flavor compared to onions, which can complement the salad without overpowering other ingredients.

  • green bell pepper - Substitute with red bell pepper: Red bell peppers can provide a slightly sweeter and fruitier flavor compared to green bell peppers, adding a vibrant color and taste to the salad.

  • celery - Substitute with fennel: Fennel can offer a similar crunchy texture and a hint of licorice-like flavor, enhancing the overall taste and texture of the salad.

  • garlic salt - Substitute with garlic powder and salt: Mixing garlic powder and salt can replicate the flavor and seasoning provided by garlic salt in the recipe.

  • catalina salad dressing - Substitute with French dressing: French dressing can provide a tangy and slightly sweet flavor similar to Catalina dressing, making it a suitable alternative.

  • sweet pickle relish - Substitute with chopped sweet pickles: Chopped sweet pickles can offer a similar sweet and tangy flavor to the salad, replacing the relish in the recipe.

  • mayonnaise - Substitute with Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt can provide a creamy texture and tangy flavor, serving as a healthier alternative to mayonnaise in the pasta salad.

Best Ways to Present This Colorful Pasta Salad

  1. Elevate the plating: Arrange the tangy catalina pasta salad in a visually appealing manner, ensuring that each ingredient is showcased beautifully on the plate.

  2. Incorporate vibrant colors: Introduce pops of color by garnishing the dish with freshly chopped parsley and thinly sliced red bell peppers. This will add visual interest and freshness to the presentation.

  3. Focus on precision: Pay attention to the placement of each component, ensuring that the dish is meticulously arranged to demonstrate attention to detail and culinary finesse.

  4. Emphasize texture: Incorporate a variety of textures by layering the pasta salad with crisp lettuce leaves or delicate microgreens, adding depth and complexity to the overall presentation.

  5. Utilize elegant serving ware: Select sophisticated plating dishes or bowls to elevate the presentation, complementing the vibrant colors and textures of the tangy catalina pasta salad.

  6. Highlight the seafood: Showcase the tuna and shrimp as the star ingredients, strategically placing them on top of the pasta salad to draw attention to their freshness and quality.

  7. Add a touch of sophistication: Consider incorporating a drizzle of aged balsamic glaze or a sprinkle of edible flowers to add a touch of refinement and elevate the overall presentation.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Pasta Salad

  • Large pot: A large pot is essential for boiling pasta or cooking large batches of food.
  • Colander: A colander is used for draining pasta or washing vegetables and fruits.
  • Mixing bowl: A mixing bowl is necessary for combining the pasta salad ingredients.
  • Spatula: A spatula is useful for tossing and mixing the pasta salad.
  • Knife: A knife is needed for chopping the onion, green pepper, and celery.
  • Cutting board: A cutting board provides a stable surface for chopping and preparing ingredients.
  • Measuring cup: A measuring cup is essential for accurately measuring the salad dressing and mayonnaise.
  • Can opener: A can opener is required for opening the tuna can.
  • Strainer: A strainer can be used for rinsing the pasta and draining the canned tuna and shrimp.
  • Large serving bowl: A large serving bowl is necessary for tossing and serving the pasta salad.

Storage and Freezing Instructions for Pasta Salad

  • Let the pasta salad cool completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep fresh for up to 3-4 days.
  • If you want to freeze the pasta salad, it's best to do so without the mayonnaise and catalina dressing. These ingredients can separate and become watery when thawed.
  • To freeze, place the cooled pasta salad (without the dressing) in a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label the container or bag with the date and contents for easy identification later.
  • When ready to serve, thaw the frozen pasta salad in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Once thawed, add the mayonnaise, catalina dressing, and any other desired ingredients. Stir well to combine and distribute the dressing evenly.
  • If the pasta salad seems dry after thawing, you can add a little extra mayonnaise or catalina dressing to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Frozen pasta salad is best consumed within 2-3 months for optimal taste and texture.

How To Reheat Leftover Pasta Salad

  • Microwave: transfer the desired amount of leftover tangy catalina pasta salad to a microwave-safe dish. cover the dish with a damp paper towel to prevent the pasta from drying out. microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the salad is heated through. be careful not to overheat, as this may cause the mayonnaise and catalina dressing to separate.

  • Stovetop: place the leftover pasta salad in a saucepan over medium-low heat. add a splash of water or chicken broth to the pan to help moisten the salad and prevent it from sticking. stir the salad gently and continuously until it is heated through, about 5-7 minutes. be sure to keep the heat low to avoid overcooking the pasta or causing the dressing to separate.

  • Oven: preheat the oven to 350°f (175°c). transfer the leftover tangy catalina pasta salad to an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the salad is heated through. remove the foil for the last 2-3 minutes of baking to allow any excess moisture to evaporate and the top of the salad to slightly crisp up.

  • Cold serving: if you prefer to enjoy your leftover tangy catalina pasta salad cold, simply remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving. this will help the flavors to develop and the salad to reach a more pleasant temperature for eating. if the salad seems a bit dry, you can add a small amount of mayonnaise or catalina dressing and stir to combine before serving.

Interesting Trivia About Catalina Dressing

The catalina pasta salad recipe is a versatile dish that can be easily customized to suit different tastes and preferences. It can be made with various additions such as grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, or black olives. This dish is perfect for potlucks, picnics, or as a side dish for a barbecue. The tangy and sweet flavor of the catalina dressing adds a unique twist to the traditional pasta salad, making it a crowd-pleaser. Additionally, this recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to serve a larger group, making it a convenient option for gatherings and events.

Is Making Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Cost-Effective?

The cost-effectiveness of this tangy catalina pasta salad recipe largely depends on the availability and prices of the ingredients. Elbow macaroni, tuna, and shrimp can be relatively affordable, while catalina salad dressing and mayonnaise may be pricier. The total cost for a household of 4 people would likely range from $15 to $20. Considering the variety of ingredients and the potential for leftovers, this recipe offers a good balance of cost and flavor. Overall Verdict: 7.

Is Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Healthy or Unhealthy?

The tangy Catalina pasta salad recipe, while tasty, may not be the healthiest option due to a few factors:

  • The recipe relies heavily on processed ingredients like Catalina salad dressing and mayonnaise, which are high in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars.
  • The inclusion of tuna and shrimp provides some lean protein, but the portion sizes may be too small to make a significant impact on the overall nutritional value.
  • The vegetables used (onion, green bell pepper, and celery) offer some nutrients, but the quantities are relatively low compared to the amount of pasta.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Swap the elbow macaroni for a whole grain or legume-based pasta to increase the fiber content and nutritional value.
  • Reduce the amount of Catalina salad dressing and mayonnaise, or replace them with healthier alternatives like Greek yogurt, olive oil, or a homemade vinaigrette using fresh ingredients.
  • Increase the portion sizes of tuna and shrimp to boost the protein content, or consider adding other lean proteins like grilled chicken or tofu.
  • Add more vegetables to the salad, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, or carrots, to increase the fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Include a handful of leafy greens like spinach or arugula to further boost the nutritional value.
  • Experiment with fresh herbs and spices to add flavor without relying on high-calorie dressings or excessive salt.

Editor's Opinion on the Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Recipe

This tangy Catalina pasta salad recipe is a delightful combination of flavors and textures. The blend of tuna, shrimp, and crunchy vegetables creates a satisfying dish, while the tangy Catalina dressing and sweet pickle relish add a burst of flavor. The creamy mayonnaise helps to balance the tanginess of the dressing, resulting in a harmonious and refreshing pasta salad. It's a versatile dish that can be served as a side or a light main course, perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a quick and easy meal at home. Overall, it's a delicious and satisfying recipe that is sure to please your taste buds.

Enhance Your Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus: Tender asparagus spears roasted to perfection with a savory garlic parmesan topping.
Honey Glazed Carrots: Sweet and tender carrots glazed with a delicious honey and butter mixture, perfect for balancing out the tangy flavors of the pasta salad.
Grilled Pineapple Slices: Juicy pineapple slices grilled to perfection, adding a touch of sweetness to complement the tangy and savory flavors of the pasta salad.

Similar Pasta Salad Recipes to Try

Savory Beef Stew: This hearty beef stew is packed with tender chunks of beef, carrots, potatoes, and a rich, flavorful broth. It's the perfect comfort food for a cozy night in.
Zesty Lemon Chicken: This zesty lemon chicken recipe is bursting with bright, citrusy flavors. The tender, juicy chicken is marinated in a tangy lemon marinade and then grilled to perfection.
Creamy Avocado Pasta: This creamy avocado pasta is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional pasta dishes. The creamy avocado sauce is made with ripe avocados, garlic, and a touch of lemon juice for a bright, fresh flavor.
Berrylicious Fruit Salad: This berrylicious fruit salad is a refreshing and colorful addition to any meal. It's made with a mix of fresh berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, and tossed in a sweet and tangy honey-lime dressing.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for This Pasta Salad Recipe

Savory Stuffed Mushrooms: Delight your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. The perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Crispy Zucchini Fritters: Indulge in these crispy zucchini fritters that are bursting with flavor and served with a tangy dipping sauce. A delightful way to start any gathering.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and decadent flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Delight in a luscious strawberry cheesecake, with a buttery graham cracker crust and a velvety smooth filling. Each bite is bursting with juicy strawberries and creamy cheesecake goodness.

Why trust this Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Recipe:

This recipe is a delicious and satisfying choice for any occasion. The combination of tuna, shrimp, and elbow macaroni creates a flavorful and hearty base. The addition of onion, green bell pepper, and celery provides a refreshing crunch, while the catalina salad dressing and sweet pickle relish infuse the dish with a tangy and sweet flavor profile. With the perfect balance of textures and flavors, this pasta salad is a reliable and delightful option for any meal.

Want to share your own twist on this Tangy Catalina Pasta Salad Recipe? Head over to the Recipe Sharing section of our forum and let us know how you make this delicious dish!
What is the best way to cook the pasta for this recipe?
The best way to cook the pasta is to bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. After cooking, run the pasta under cold water to chill and drain again.
Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, you can use a different type of pasta if you prefer. Rotini, penne, or bowtie pasta would work well in this recipe.
How long can I store the pasta salad in the refrigerator?
You can store the pasta salad in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Make sure to keep it in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.
Can I substitute the tuna and shrimp with other proteins?
Absolutely! You can substitute the tuna and shrimp with cooked chicken, ham, or even tofu for a vegetarian option.
Is there a way to make this recipe more spicy?
If you prefer a spicier flavor, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a few dashes of hot sauce to the salad dressing for an extra kick.

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