Spanish Pasta Salad With Chorizo, Piquillo Peppers, and Pickled Onion Recipe

An irresistibly spicy, bright take on pasta salad that celebrates Spanish flavors.

Overhead view of Spanish pasta salad in a serving bowl, flanked by a lemon and a large wooden spoon.
Chorizo, garlic, and roasted piquillo peppers make a pasta salad you'll actually want to eat.

Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

Why It Works

  • Overcooking the pasta ensures that it has the best texture once chilled, since it firms as it cools.
  • Pickled onion adds pops of tartness without soaking the pasta itself in vinegar.
  • Roasted piquillo peppers add vegetable depth, while fresh parsley, scallions, and lemon zest add bright notes.

Most pasta salad is a crime against good taste, but not this one. Crispy chorizo, sautéed garlic, roasted piquillo peppers, and plenty of fresh parsley and lemon zest make a pasta salad that you'll actually want to eat...a lot.

I started with pasta made for fideuà, a paella-like Spanish dish that uses pasta instead of rice. The kind I got were very short, thin, hollow macaroni with a slight curve. You can absolutely substitute regular macaroni or another short, hollow pasta shape, like ditalini.

A bag of dried fideuá pasta.

Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

I cooked the pasta until well done and completely tender throughout, a few minutes longer than the al dente stage. As I wrote in my primer on making better pasta salads, overcooking the noodles gives them a nice al dente-like texture once they are chilled.

Then I diced up some Spanish chorizo and cooked it in a skillet to until the fat rendered and the sausage crisped up nicely.

Diced Spanish chorizo being cooked in a cast iron skillet.

Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

Toward the end of cooking, I tossed in some minced garlic, just to amp up the flavor a bit. I also minced some onion and set it in a bit of sherry vinegar to quickly pickle, which takes about 15 minutes. You can let it stand longer, it'll just get more and more tender as it sits. These onions give us little pops of acidity in the pasta salad without having the pasta itself taste tart.

Close up view of a prep bowl containing pickled onion.

Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

To finish the pasta, I toss the chilled noodles with the crispy chorizo and its garlicky oil, some fresh extra-virgin olive oil, those pickled onions, and plenty of chopped parsley, sliced scallions, and grated lemon zest to perk the dish up—these are the bright flavors I want instead of lots of vinegar.

The finished Spanish pasta salad in a shallow blue ceramic serving bowl.

Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

I guarantee it, this is a pasta salad worth eating.

June 2015

Recipe Facts

4.3

(3)

Active: 30 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar

  • 1 pound small pasta, such as fideuà (see note), macaroni, or ditalini

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 6 ounces Spanish chorizo (about 2 sausages), diced

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted or grilled piquillo peppers from 1 (12-ounce) brine- or oil-packed jar

  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley leaves and tender stems (about 1/2 bunch)

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons zest from 1 lemon

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, cover onion with sherry vinegar and let stand until lightly pickled, at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

  2. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until very tender throughout, 2 to 3 minutes longer than al dente stage according to package. Drain in a colander, then chill under cold running water. Let drain well, then drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to coat. Set aside.

  3. In a small skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat until fat has rendered and chorizo is crisp, about 8 minutes; during last 1 minute of cooking, stir in garlic.

    Overhead view of browned, crispy diced chorizo in a cast iron skillet. Minced garlic has just been added.

    Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

  4. In a large serving bowl, toss pasta with chorizo, garlic, and its rendered fat, along with olive oil, piquillo peppers, parsley, scallions, and lemon zest. Drain onions and toss into salad. Season with salt and pepper. Serve right away at room temperature or make up to 1 day in advance, refrigerate, and return to room temperature before serving.

Notes

Fideuà is a Spanish dish similar to paella but made with pasta instead of rice; the pasta used here is the same pasta used in that dish, and it looks like small, thin, slightly curved tubular macaroni. Feel free to substitute other small, tubular pasta shapes instead if you can't locate it.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
274 Calories
17g Fat
21g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 274
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 19mg 6%
Sodium 542mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 17mg 85%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 179mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)