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Old 05-17-2014, 02:13 AM
Location: The Triangle
4,465 posts, read 3,455,739 times
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Originally Posted by Hedgehog_Mom View Post
I always cool the pasta before I put the dressing on it, and I add a little bit of olive oil to the pasta. I don't like it with just mayo, so I use half mayo and half sour cream. I usually add ranch dressing mix to it (using ranch dressing is not the same). I'm eating lower-carb now so I replace half the pasta with cooked cauliflower, cut small, and it blends perfectly.

Here's the recipe I usually use:

8 oz pasta, cooked and drained, rinsed until cool, tossed with 1 tbsp olive oil
1 can Le Sueur peas, drained
1 carrot, grated finely
1 bunch green onions, chopped small
1 regular-size (about 2 oz) package real bacon bits
1 cup mozzarella (you can sub cheddar)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
2 tbsp powdered ranch dressing mix
1 tsp onion powder

Mix sour cream and mayo, add ranch mix and onion powder, stir well. Add bacon, carrot, green onions and mozzarella and stir. Add pasta and stir until coated. Gently stir in the peas.

My kids like to put the pasta in a salad spinner to get all the water out, then drizzle the olive oil over it and spin it some more. I usually just drain the pasta in a colander and add the oil to it while it's in the colander. It comes out the same either way.

Here's my mac and cheese recipe too

8 oz pasta, cooked and drained well (stir a few times in the colander to get the water all out)

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard (or a couple tsp of prepared mustard if you're out of dry)
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in skillet, add flour. Cook until bubbly, then add milk and seasonings. Stir until it boils, mashing any lumps with the spatula. Once it boils and thickens, remove from heat and add cheddar. Stir until melted. Stir in pasta. Spray casserole dish with nonstick spray, then put the macaroni in and bake for 25 or 30 minutes, until it's bubbly and the top is golden brown in a few places.

And alfredo pasta:

8 oz pasta, cooked and drained

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp minced garlic (or less if you prefer)
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Melt butter in skillet, cook garlic for a minute or two but don't let it get really dark. Add flour, cook until bubbly. Add milk and seasonings and stir until it boils, mashing any flour lumps with the spatula. Once it boils, turn off the heat and add the parmesan, then the noodles.

You can also cook some diced boneless chicken breast in the butter and garlic, then add the flour and make the sauce, that works fine too. I have substituted 1 cup sour cream for 1 cup of the milk but that makes a very rich and thick sauce.

I can't eat any of these things anymore (can't have all the carbs), all I can do is talk about them. But they were delicious when I could still eat them. I made the pasta salad on Mother's day with cauliflower instead of part of the pasta so that I could eat it and it was delicious. My kids couldn't tell that there was cauliflower in it at all.
Thank you! Does the sour cream add a different consistency to the mixture? Maybe make it more creamy?
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Old 05-17-2014, 02:52 AM
Location: San Antonio, TX
11,140 posts, read 20,313,684 times
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Originally Posted by Sweet*Tea View Post
Thank you! Does the sour cream add a different consistency to the mixture? Maybe make it more creamy?
I feel like the mayo is too oily by itself. The sour cream helps cut down on that somehow. I use it in potato salad too.
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Old 05-17-2014, 04:59 AM
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I use Italian dressing and rotini. I don't let the pasta cool but mix everything together immediately after draining the pasta.
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Old 05-17-2014, 05:06 AM
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I don't use mayo in pasta salad for to a number of reasons. I use vinaigrette dressings.

I love this recipe. It's my go-to potluck dish.

Tortellini Greek Salad

2 20 ounce cheese tortellini packs (refrigerated )

3 cups grape tomatoes (cut in half)
2 English seedless cucumbers (unpeeled, cut into chunks)
2 cups kalamata or black olives (pitted and slivered)
1 purple/red onion (slivered)
1 green pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 red pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 yellow pepper (cut into thin strips)
2 cups artichoke hearts (drained, can be marinated or not marinated, sliced)
2 cups Pepperocini/mild Greek peppers (drained and sliced)
2 cup feta cheese (crumbled up)


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
1 tsp dried oregano
Pepper if you like. I think it is salty enough with all the feta, olives and all. But if you don't, add some salt.

Cook the tortellini according to package directions, until just barely done. If it says 5-7 minutes, only do 5. Only one package at a time in the pot, otherwise it all turns to mush. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, Mix up the dressing. Pour over the cooled tortellini.

Chop and add the vegetables. Cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and red onions are essential. Everything else depends on what you like.

Add the feta cheese after everything is all mixed up. Mix one more time and let it sit.

This serves 16 or so. You can make only half, but why?

Lasts 3 days.

Or so I've heard.
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Old 05-17-2014, 05:07 AM
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
71,682 posts, read 83,272,206 times
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Originally Posted by Sweet*Tea View Post
I have never been able to make a decent pasta salad. Every time I attempt to make it, it either turns out too dry or too runny and is always bland. I can never seem to get the consistency or taste right. If it turns out runny, I always compensate the next time I make it and then it turns out too dry.

My latest attempt was last weekend. I cooked the bow ties al dente and then tossed with a mayo and vinegar mixture and then added peas, shredded cheddar and green peppers. I chilled it for several hours and when it came time to serve, the pasta had soaked up all the sauce and it was just dry pasta with peas and cheese. What am I doing wrong? Can anyone give me some tips on how to make a good pasta salad? Any tried and true recipes?
I like mayo in mine as well, but yes, the biggest problem is the soaking up of the dressing. I can't actually give you a recipe because I don't use one. But I can say, if the dressing soaks up I just add more. I have started using more oil based dressings, not mayo as much. I also use a few more ingredients than what you used.
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Old 05-17-2014, 05:24 AM
Location: Sunny Florida
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I got this pasta salad recipe from allrecipes.com. It's easy and works well.

(BTW that website is great because it gives you ratings and reviews for all of the recipes. I choose a recipe that's highly rated, read the reviews - which give you hints and tips to make it better, and then start cooking. So far everything has turned out well.) I hope this helps you.

Pasta Salad

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked tri-color spiral pasta
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 (16 ounce) bottles Italian-style salad dressing
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water until al dente. Rinse under cold water, and drain.
2. Mix chopped carrots, celery, cucumber, green pepper, tomatoes, and onion together in large bowl.
3. Combine cooled pasta and vegetables together in large bowl. Pour Italian dressing over mixture, add Parmesan cheese and mix well.
4. Chill for one hour before serving.
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Old 05-17-2014, 08:03 AM
Location: Coastal Georgia
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When I make a pasta salad without mayonnaise, I use a pound of pasta, a pound of sliced smoked sausage and assorted chopped vegetables, and a whole large bottle of Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing. As you can imagine, it starts out swimming in the dressing, but after a few hours or overnight, it is just right.

If your mayonnaise based pasta salad is too dry, I suggest you let the pasta cool completely before adding it, then add a bit more, or some milk or cream to thin it, just before serving. I think mayo will absorb into the warm pasta.

There is a rotini type pasta, called gemelli. If you can find it, it is very sturdy, and I always use it for pasta salad if possible.
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Old 05-17-2014, 08:53 AM
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
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I'm really enjoying reading these recipes.

I keep pasta salad going continuously in the summer. My family really enjoys it and I change it up all the time.
I never cook any veggies. Raw Broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc. Always celery (didn't anybody else mention clery?), sometimes cubed and sometimes shredded cheeses, sometimes a bit of raw vidalia onion(only real vidalia onions will do) and sometimes PICKLE RELISH. If it works in potato salad why not in pasta salad? I always pour pickle juice over warm potatoes or pasta to infuse flavor.

We also like the 3 color rotini cause it looks so pretty with broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Sometimes if there is some left after 3 days and it is looking a bit dry I just squirt whatever bottled dressing on it just to moisten it up a bit. french gives it a tang, ranch, blue cheese, zesty italian...it all works.
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:06 AM
Location: Up North in God's Country
670 posts, read 812,625 times
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I had an absolutely delicious pasta salad at a buffet last weekend. It had a zesty Italian dressing. I'm thinking of trying to replicate it.
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:13 AM
Location: Richardson, TX
11,002 posts, read 17,490,046 times
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You are supposed to rinse the pasta before use when making pasta salad. It removes excess starch that will gum up your dressing.
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