Cuban Pasta Salad [+Video]

I cannot even believe I’m posting a recipe full of mustard and pickles. Two things I don’t really eat, but you guys, this Cuban Pasta Salad is so good!!!

 

It’s full of pork tenderloin, ham, Swiss cheese and veggies. And the dressing is so tangy and full of Cuban flavors! Buckle up for this one!

 

A photo of a cuban pasta salad with pork, ham, cubed swiss cheese, tomatoes, purple onions, and fresh herbs.

 

Also, I was recently told I shouldn’t say, “you guys” all the time because I’m not just talking to males. So, um, I’m sorry? I honestly never have meant it to be just males, haha I guess I’m too casual with you all. 

SO! Ladies, and gentlemen, this is THE BEST PASTA SALAD RECIPE OF THE YEAR!! 

A conference took me to Florida one time and wanted to try a Cuban sandwich. Uber wasn’t as big yet, and we were not close to many restaurants. I didn’t get a Cuban sandwich.

I went home a little bummed, but after having a friend from Florida live with us for a bit I decided to tackle the Cuban Pasta Salad in anticipation of summer which is right around the corner. 

And my goodness, summer could not come fast enough!!!

 

A photo of a large glass bowl full of all the ingredients for cuban pasta salad.

 

It’s All About the Dressing

The dressing is the real star here. I’ve doubled it because I really like to taste the dressing. It’s not overkill, but if for some crazy reason you want less it’s fine to half it. But leave it as is…trust me on this one!

In fact, this whole Cuban Pasta Salad is a cinch to cut in half if your just feeding your fam. It’s made to feed a crowd as written. 

 

A photo of dressing being poured on a cuban pasta salad.

 

What is on a Cuban Sandwich?

Remember that Cuban sandwich I wanted while I was in Florida? A typical Cuban sandwich consists of five essential things:

  • Sliced roast pork
  • Sliced Serrano ham
  • Swiss cheese
  • Dill pickles
  • Yellow mustard

I mentioned that pickles and mustard aren’t usually part of my regular diet, but something about this combination just works! Like really, REALLY blow-your-mind works!

 

A photo of all the ingredients chopped up for a cuban pasta salad.

 

Sandwich Turned Salad

One day I had the idea to take these flavors that make a Cuban sandwich so good and turn it into a salad. I took those five essential Cuban sandwich ingredients, added some pasta, veggies and the best dressing of all time and voilà…the pasta salad you are going to make over and over this summer!

 

A photo of a cuban pasta salad with pork, ham, cubed swiss cheese, tomatoes, purple onions, and fresh herbs.

 

What is Orecchiette Pasta?

Pasta salads can be made with any pasta you like, but we highly recommend orecchiette for this one. Orecchiette is a type of pasta whose name comes from the Italian word for “ear” because the pasta is shaped like a small ear. The center of the pasta is a little thinner with a thicker edge. They act like little cups for the dressing, or little pockets delivering punches of flavor to your mouth.

 

A photo of a cuban pasta salad with pork, ham, cubed swiss cheese, tomatoes, purple onions, and fresh herbs.

 

How to Make Perfect Pasta

We have found a few tips for making the perfect pasta for pasta salads. I know making pasta seems like a no-brainer, but these three tricks will make a huge difference:

  1. Boil the pasta in salty water, like super salty water! It will give the pasta a great flavor.
  2. Cook the pasta until it is a little past al dente because pasta firms up as it cools, so you want it to be a minute or two past done but not mushy.
  3. Pour some of the dressing on the pasta while it is still warm. Pasta that is slightly warm will absorb the dressing pack it full of flavor.

 

A photo of a cuban pasta salad with pork, ham, cubed swiss cheese, tomatoes, purple onions, and fresh herbs.

 

Two Cooking Methods for the Pork

We provide you with directions for cooking the pork tenderloin in two different ways. You can use your instant pot or you can roast it in the oven. Both cooking methods take about 18-20 minutes, so it really depends on which method you prefer and if you have an instant pot or not. Ha! I don’t know that I prefer one way over the other. Both methods give you great flavor!

Can You Make This Pasta Ahead of Time?

You can make this salad up to 1-2 days ahead of time. Save the lettuce and cilantro to add right before serving. If you cut those up ahead of time, they will get wilted and start to turn brown. Everything else can be mixed together ahead of time. In fact, I like when a pasta salad has sat in the refrigerator at least overnight. That really allows the dressing to soak into the pasta. Just make sure it is stored in an airtight container.

Ok guys…er, I mean, friends, whoever makes this Cuban Pasta Salad the most times over the summer wins a prize! I might win my own prize because I plan to make it SO MANY times!

Looking for more delicious PASTA RECIPES?

REMEMBER TO SUBSCRIBE TO our FREE Oh Sweet Basil NEWSLETTER AND RECEIVE EASY RECIPES DELIVERED INTO YOUR INBOX EVERY DAY!

When you try a recipe, please use the hashtag #ohsweetbasil on INSTAGRAM for a chance to be featured in our stories!  FOLLOW OH, SWEET BASIL ON FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER FOR ALL OF OUR LATEST CONTENT, RECIPES AND STORIES.

 

 

A photo of a cuban pasta salad with pork, ham, cubed swiss cheese, tomatoes, purple onions, and fresh herbs.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate this Recipe
0 from 0 votes

Cuban Pasta Salad

I cannot even believe I'm posting a recipe full of mustard and pickles. Two things I don't really eat, but you guys, this Cuban Pasta Salad is so good!!! It's full of pork tenderloin, ham, Swiss cheese and veggies. And the dressing is so tangy and full of Cuban flavors! Buckle up for this one!
Course: 15 of the Best Pasta Salad Recipes on the Internet
Cuisine: CUBAN
Keyword: bbq, cuban, pasta, pasta salad, pickles, pork, salad, side dish
Servings: 12 SERVINGS
Calories: 250kcal
Author: Sweet Basil

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 Pounds Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 Teaspoon Dry Ground Mustard
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Dry Oregano
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • Juice of 1 Orange
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • For the Pasta Salad
  • 20  oz.  Orecchiette Pasta
  • 1 1/2 Cups Cubed Ham * see note
  • 2 Cups Swiss Cheese Cubed
  • 1 1/2 Pints  Cherry Tomatoes  Halved
  • Cup  Chopped Dill Pickles
  • 1/2 Cup  Red onion  Thinly Sliced
  • Cups  Chopped Packed Romaine Lettuce
  • 1/4-1/3 Cup Chopped Cilantro
  • For the Dressing
  • 1 1/3  Cup  Canola oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • Zest of 2 Oranges
  • Juice of 2 Oranges
  • Zest of 2 Limes
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons Mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Dijon or regular Mustard

Instructions

  • For the Pork Tenderloin
  • You have two options for preparing the pork tenderloin. If you have an instant pot, sprinkle all of the seasonings over the pork.
  • Squeeze the orange and lemon juice into the instant pot and place the pork in.
  • Turn the valve to seal and close the lid. Set the time to 10 minutes at high pressure. Allow a natural release and remove the pork.
  • Make sure the pork rests for 8 minutes and then slice into 1" cubes.
  • Drizzle oil in a pan over medium high heat and crisp the pork cubes, scraping up any brown bits in the pan and placing everything on a plate to cool. The crispy pieces in the pan are essential, don't throw them out!

For the Oven

  • Heat the oven to 400 and prepare as above. Bake for 18-20 minutes and proceed as above.

For the Pasta Salad

  • Heat a large pot of water over medium high heat with a few pinches of salt so the pasta is seasoned. Cook pasta al dente, this is essential for pasta salad, it must never be over cooked pasta.
  • Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
  • Prepare all other ingredients and add to a large bowl with the pasta.
  • Add the dressing and toss to coat.
  • Serve immediately.

For the Dressing

  • In a glass measuring cup, whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

Video

Notes

This recipe is easily halved for family use.
We like to buy a 12 ounce Ham Steak from the meat department, and just use that.

Nutrition

Serving: 1CUP | Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 19.8g | Protein: 21.1g | Fat: 10.5g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 883mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 6.6g
Tried this recipe?Mention @OhSweetBasil or tag #OhSweetBasil!
A photo of a cuban pasta salad with pork, ham, cubed swiss cheese, tomatoes, purple onions, and fresh herbs.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Carrian Cheney

Lover of all things beautiful, good and delicious. Wife, mother, friend, foodie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 comments on “Cuban Pasta Salad [+Video]”

  1. Pingback: Meals for the Week, May 18-24 – Meals We Like

  2. I can’t find the “note” on the ham….what does it say??

    • Hey Margaret! Sorry about that! The note didn’t transfer over to the recipe card. I’ve added it in. We like to buy a 12 oz ham steak and cube it up for the ham in this pasta salad. Enjoy!

  3. So, where is the video?