Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I’ve learned}

4 Tips for Making Perfect Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great dish to bring to a party, family get-together or for summer entertaining. It makes a great side, and if you are like me, you can make a meal out of it. It’s also so versatile, that you can add just about anything to it. However, for years…I just couldn’t get it right. After much trial and error, I have come up with what I think is the Perfect Pasta Salad!

Perfect Pasta Salad Bowl EAH


  • First tip, it’s important to cook your pasta al dente (it should say on the box how many minutes this is, I like to use rotini pasta and it’s usually 7 minutes). This will prevent the pasta from getting too mushy/soggy because the pasta will soak up some of the dressing as it sits.
  • Second, and this is where I often went wrong, you need equal amounts of pasta to vegetables/add-ins. I like to chop my main veggies fairly uniform (“bite” size), like cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. My other ingredients that I use less of because of the strong flavor, such as onions and peppers, are chopped smaller. By add-ins, I am talking about not only vegetables, but also cheese, meats (pepperoni, ham, chicken), etc.
  • Third,  the dressing…everyone has their favorite and how much they like, but too much or too little can turn your perfect pasta salad into a “ehhh, it’s okay” pasta salad. My rule of thumb is 4:4:14 cups cooked pasta, 4 cups veggies/add-ins, 1 cup dressing. Even when I make a large batch for a cook-out or party, I stick with my ratios. See, math does come in handy sometimes! The pasta and veggies will soak up some of the dressing, so if you make this the night before, you may need to add a little more dressing the next day. This is a good starting point, and you can adjust to suit your taste buds.
  • Finally, and this is just a suggestion because they are not always readily available, but I highly recommend adding fresh herbs. My favorites to use are basil or cilantro.

Pasta Salad Ingredients EAH

I am particularly fond of the above ingredients for my pasta salad. However, I usually add peppers and I always add some kind of cheese, which somehow did not make the picture! I usually use feta, but feel free to add whatever is your favorite.

Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I've learned}
This pasta salad is the perfect side or light meal. Great for parties, cookouts, and more.
  • 8 oz dry pasta (will yield about 4 cups when cooked)
  • 4 cups desired vegetables/add-ins (such as cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, fresh herbs, cheese)
  • 1 cup dressing (such as House Italian, Oil & Vinegar, etc.)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package for al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  2. Place drained pasta in a large bowl, adding vegetables and desired add-ins.
  3. Add dressing, salt, pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Place in fridge to chill or serve immediately.

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Kim is a contributing writer for Eat at Home and author of food & family blog, Makin’ it Mo’Betta. She blogs about her adventures in the kitchen, incorporating life as mom to teen and tween girls, as well as a young son with nut allergies, and wife to a diabetic husband. Life is never dull!

5 Graduation Party Menu Ideas

5 Graduation Party Menus

It’s that time of year! Graduation season is right around the corner.  I’ve got a son graduating from high school this year.  I’ve been working to come up with a menu for his party.  In the process, I’ve got 5 different menus to share with you.  I hope these ideas will help you plan your celebrations.

Read to the bottom for all the dessert ideas!  I wanted to add them separately, instead of one for each menu.

Easy and Casual BBQ Feast


BBQ Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker



Potato Salad


Homemade Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker

asian broccoli salad done


Asian Broccoli Salad

This is the menu I am most likely going to use for my son’s party.  It’s easy.  The pork can be made ahead of time and frozen, then heated in the crockpot.  The baked beans cook in the crockpot and are easy to put together.  The only thing that will have to be done the day of the party is toss the dressing on the Asian Broccoli Salad.

To this, I’ll add desserts and probably potato chips.  I may also add cut fruit.

Nice Family Dinner   [Read more…]

Menu Ideas for Graduation Parties

Raise your hand if you have a new graduate this year!

A year ago, I was planning my oldest daughter’s high school graduation menu.  I’ve noticed quite a few people searching for ideas for recipes to serve at graduation parties, so I thought I’d put together a list to get you started.

There are so many ways to celebrate a graduation.  I’m not even going to try to cover them all.  Casual is what I’m most comfortable with, so this list will include foods that can be served buffet style, can be fixed ahead of time, and serve a crowd.

[Read more…]

Graduation Party Menu

Today, I’m cooking.  And cleaning.  And list checking.  And hopefully crossing things off the list as they get accomplished.

My oldest daughter is graduating from high school tomorrow.  After the graduation ceremony, we’re hosting a lunch reception for family and friends.  Here’s what I’ll be fixing today:

pasta salad done close

[Read more…]

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