Pasta Salad, Create Your Own Recipe

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I've not been a fan of pasta salad oh, since, perhaps. . . I was born.  There are many reasons for that, but it is the truth.  Or was the truth.  Sometimes I am just a big kid with a picky palette.  And, in the past, pasta salad never pleased mine.  But, one day, something changed.

I really don't remember exactly how I decided to try pasta salad again.  Or even if I did try or if it was something my children wanted me to make (what?!).  Here we are though.  The weather is changing.  We have been sitting on the back deck enjoying dinners.  And my cravings have turned to pasta salad!

So, today, I finally whipped some up in the kitchen.  This isn't really a recipe, more of a method to create your own pasta salad recipe.  Maybe this is why my taste changed.  Long ago, back in that notorious decade of dinner in a box, pasta salad was just GROSS.  And it was usually creamy. Like a whole jar of Miracle whip gross.

For this method, you don't need to go there, unless you really can't stop yourself.  Just start with a box of pasta and your favorite dressing (highly recommend non creamy dressing).

I like to boil my pasta, then place it in a large wooden bowl.  While it is still hot, I add the dressing and toss to coat.  Why wood?  It doesn't conduct heat and the pasta cools off faster.  Why hot pasta?  It soaks up the dressing and makes the pasta oh so delicious!

While the pasta is cooling, I work on getting the rest of the ingredients prepared. I like to think of my pasta salad like a pizza.  I add meat, veggies and cheese.

Fist the veggies. If you are going with some that are really tough (like broccoli), I recommend blanching them.  And, if you are going with some that have a high water content, I suggest keeping them in some water in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using them.  Some of my favorite choices are cucumbers, olives, and onions.

My children really don't like this, but I love to use tomatoes.  Just a couple of plum tomatoes seeded and chopped.  And a tip, use a serrated knife to cut tomatoes.  They don't squish so much.

Once the pasta is cooled enough (to room temperature), I add the veggies and meat and toss well.  The colorful veggies make the pasta look so pretty.

The last step is to add some shredded cheese.  I do this after all the other ingredients to make sure that the pasta is completely cooled before adding.  Sometimes, I add the cheese just before serving so it doesn't soak up liquid and become too soggy.

Finally, I spoon the pasta salad into a stoneware bowl before chilling in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 2 days.  That makes this an excellent choice for summer entertaining and picnics.  The stoneware bowl will help keep the salad chilled when serving.

Create Your Own Pasta Salad Recipe

1 box 16 oz pasta
1 c favorite salad dressing
1/2 lb cooked meat (ham, chicken, turkey, etc.), chopped
1 1/2 cups assorted veggies, chopped
1 cup shredded, cubed or crumbled cheese
fresh herbs, slivered

Boil pasta according to package directions.  Drain; place in large shallow bowl.  Pour dressing over warm pasta.  Toss and let cool.  While cooling, chop and prepare other ingredients.  Add meat and veggies to cooled pasta; toss.  Add cheese and any fresh herbs; toss.  Move to stoneware or glass bowl.  Cover and chill until serving.


  1. ummmmm why did i not know you have a blog?? i make my pasta salad almost identical to this minus the meat (which not i have to try!) you truly are super mama!
    xo-Alex (nimalab)

    1. 😊 Something I mostly did before Dianna; I think I've posted about 6 times since she was born! Still hoping to do more one day.

      Thanks for hopiping over!


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