Crunchy Creamy Pasta Salad

pasta salad 006
Final product with a garnish of extra black olives and baby spinach leaves.

I shared this recipe a few days ago, but at that time I didn’t have any pics to include. So I decided I would make it and share the pics with you. I recommend the larger shell noodles, but they weren’t available at the supermarket, so I went with something a tad smaller. I’ve included a pic without the sour cream (below), for those not wanting to overload on the fatty stuff. Tastes divine without it. Your choice!

You MUST taste this over and over as you’re preparing it because once everyone gets a share they usually don’t leave much for the cook. Always get yours first! 😉 And if you make this, let me know what you think.

You MUST marinate the noodles in Italian dressing for at least 6 hours. That way the flavor gets incorporated well.
You MUST marinate the noodles in Italian dressing for at least 6 hours. That way the flavor gets incorporated well.

This is a recipe I found in a magazine about 20 years ago, but I’ve added to it and changed it over the years to suit my own tastes. I would suggest adding in any vegetables you want to make it your own. For me it’s the Italian dressing and sour cream that really put it over the top. Very rich and creamy yet still has a good crunchy bite to it. You can chop the vegetables any way you want but I have found that a petite dice works well and still allows for some crunch. I use the shells because after mixing, all the vegetables and sour cream get pushed inside the shells, not just on the outside. Each bite is heaven! And each batch can feed a large gathering of at least 10 or more people (unless you’re from Texas, where one portion is never enough). Or you can put it in containers and it will last in the fridge as leftovers for about 3 days.

Suggested food pairings

Goes great with anything BBQed. Also works as a great side for those large family/holiday gatherings. My favorite is with ribs or brisket.

Make sure all your vegetables are diced as small as you can. YOu can go with larger, but I prefer them tiny so they get in all the nooks and crannies of the noodles.
Make sure all your vegetables are diced as small as you can. You can go with larger, but I prefer them tiny so they get in all the nooks and crannies of the noodles. I added in diced cucumber this time since it’s Spring and they taste to clean and fresh.

Ingredients

1 Bag Medium or Large Shell Pasta (I prefer the large ones)
1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian Dressing (to taste)
16 oz. Sour Cream
1 Large Onion (small dice)
1 Bell Pepper (small dice)
5-7 Small Carrots (shredded)
2 Celery Stalks (small dice)
1 Small Can Diced Black Olives
Pepper, Salt and Garlic Powder (to taste)
1-1/2 to 2 Cups Small Cubed Cheddar Cheese
1 to 1/2 Cups Small Cubed Ham or SPAM (if you use SPAM add less salt)

Dice SPAM and cheese. You can use another meat or leave it out altogether if you're watching your sodium intake.
Diced Spam and cheese (I chose Longhorn cheddar this time). You can use regular ham if you want – or leave it out altogether if you’re watching your sodium intake.

Preparation

Cook pasta as directed. Drain and cool under the tap. Put in bowl, add Italian dressing, mix well. Cover and let sit in the fridge 6-8 hours. About an hour before the pasta is finished marinating, get all your vegetables chopped and mixed thoroughly with spices in another bowl. Cover and let sit in the fridge about 1 hour. Mix marinated pasta, vegetables and spices in a very large bowl (if you use a bowl that is too small you’ll make a HUGE mess). Mix in your cheese and ham next. Then mix in sour cream thoroughly. Taste at this point and add more spices or another 1/4 cup of Italian dressing to taste. Cover and let sit in the fridge until completely chilled. Once chilled, mix well one more time and then eat!

If you're dieting and want to watch your fat intake, leave out the sour cream and add a touch more Italian dressing. Tastes wonderful this way.
If you’re dieting and want to watch your fat intake, leave out the sour cream and add a touch more Italian dressing. Tastes wonderful this way.
This is the chef's portion. ALWAYS get yours first because this side dish tends to go fast once it's on the buffet or table.
This is the chef’s portion. ALWAYS get yours first because this side dish tends to go fast once it’s on the buffet or table.
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3 thoughts on “Crunchy Creamy Pasta Salad

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