Pasta salad fans will be surprised that store-bought pasta salad can actually be as good or better than homemade pasta salad. Trader Joe’s has a few pasta salad varieties but the one that’s won my heart is the Lemon Basil Pasta Salad.
What is Trader Joe’s Lemon Basil Pasta Salad?
If you’ve ever shopped in Trader Joe’s, you know that every store has a huge variety of pre-made burritos, sandwiches, soups, salads, and pasta salads in the refrigerated section. They’re meant to be quick meals for when you’re on the go and over the years, I’ve really loved a few of them that I’ve tried.
The Lemon Basil Pasta Salad is one of those to-go salads that only requires opening the package and serving up! It’s fancy enough to serve as a side dish to guests but humble enough for a weekday lunch.
And happily, it only contains a few basic ingredients:
The zucchini is spiralized and cut into small pieces so even the pickiest of eaters will barely notice the zucchini in the salad. The spinach is cut into ribbons, called a chiffonade, and it adds a little crunch and freshness to the salad.
This is a no-mayo pasta salad so mayo-haters can rejoice! The basil lemon vinaigrette adds a fresh zip of flavor and soaks into the pasta, giving each bite some extra oomph.
And of course, a squeeze of the lemon wedge gives you an extra boost of brightness that brings all of the flavors together in the best way possible.
Where In the Store?
You can find this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad in the refrigerated area of Trader Joe’s nestled among the other prepared salads.
How to Serve Lemon Basil Pasta Salad
There are a few ways you can go with serving this pasta salad. It works great as side dish, a stand alone meal, or mixed up with a protein to help stretch the servings a bit and add some extra nutrition.
My go-to way to eat this bow tie pasta salad is with some grilled chicken. I’ve been pairing it with Trader Joe’s Grilled Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary Chicken and it makes for an incredibly fast and filling weekday lunch. Any type of grilled chicken will work though!
You could certainly add some grilled or roasted shrimp or salmon to the salad, either as the main part of the meal or mixed into the salad. Yum!!
And if you want a little extra crunch, which is sometimes needed with soft salads like this one, go ahead and add some toasted pine nuts or pepitas. Either would be great here!
Warm or Cold: That Is the Question.
I think most of us are conditioned to serving pasta salad cold because the word “salad” implies that dish should be served cold.
BUT! I’ll contend that some pasta salad recipes are meant to be served warm. Warming a pasta salad made with a vinaigrette releases the flavors in the dressing and makes it SO much tastier. And who doesn’t want more flavor?!
The benefit of a warm pasta salad that has cheese in it, like this pasta salad with ricotta and peas, is that the cheese has a chance to soften and mingle easier with the other ingredients. Cheese always tastes better when it’s not served cold anyway so adding it to a warm pasta salad only makes good sense.
So MY preference for this pasta salad is to warm it up for about 30 seconds in the microwave before serving it. I never regret this quick extra step to making lunch!
I’m a big big fan of this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad! And that’s saying a lot because I’ve never been a huge pasta salad fan aside from my all-time favorite Taco Pasta Salad.
I love how bright this salad is, especially with an extra squeeze of lemon juice over the top. I love that it’s filled with veggies. And I definitely love what a fast lunch this makes on busy weekdays when I have no desire to make anything more complicated than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
If there’s anything I could complain about with this salad, it would be that it needs a little salt. From what I can tell from the Ingredients list, the only source of salt in this salad is in the vinaigrette. And in my opinion, everything needs at least a pinch of salt! So, I always add some salt when I’m serving this salad.
Other than that small gripe, this is a great pre-made pasta salad that makes for a versatile side dish or main course meal!
Buy It Again?
I’ve been buying this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad somewhat regularly for the past 6 months and I’ll continue to buy it when I need a fast lunch or easy side dish for dinner during the week.
It’s a crowd-pleaser of a pasta salad that’s super tasty, versatile, and filled with veggies. How could you go wrong with this one?