Janet's Notebook
Put a Twist on Traditional Pasta Salad

Bacon & Tomato Pasta Salad

During the summer, on any given weekend, I have a backyard full of people. It seems like everyone congregates at my house and "suddenly" we're having a cookout. I love it and wouldn't have it any other way.

So, you'll typically find me in the kitchen on Friday night whipping up a few recipes in anticipation for Saturday. One thing I always prepare is pasta salad. I am a huge fan of the traditional style. But, I love to put a twist on the traditional.

When I saw Barbara Kingsley's Sweet Macaroni Salad recipe called for sweetened condensed milk, I wasn't so sure about it. But, I was thoroughly won over by this dish. The vinegar cuts the sweetness a bit, making for a super creamy salad.

"I always have to double the recipe and never have left overs," says Barbara. "[It's] a nice change to traditional macaroni salad." This tasty side has a surprising flavor that is sure to be the talk of your evening.

Cheese (along with chocolate) should be a food group in my mind. So the addition of brie to Kimberly Harbeck's Bowtie Pasta and Brie Cheese Medley meant that I had to save this recipe.

"This is one of my all time favorite dishes and it freezes great," shares Kimberly. I don't think you'll have many leftovers once your guests taste this salad. The brie adds a wonderfully nutty flavor that the crew and I couldn't get enough of!

We all know bacon makes everything better. And, that's never more apparent than in Marianne Gleason's Bacon & Tomato Pasta Salad. "Perfect for those hot summer nights," explains Marianne. "[It] goes together quickly and [is] not too heavy!"

This salad was fresh and satisfying, creamy and crunchy! Marianne suggests serving it alongside some grilled pork chops which we think would be great. I'm also thinking about adding some grilled chicken next time I make it. Then, it's a meal in itself!

Barbara Mitchell brought the flavors of Greece into her Greek Pasta Salad. "So quick and easy to make," says Barbara. "[You] can use [this] as a main dish if you add chicken or a side salad to accompany steak, chicken, lamb or pork." A versatile recipe is a must in the kitchen. I also love that this recipe combines the ingredients of a traditional Greek salad (one of my favorites) with the feel of a yummy, light pasta salad ... win/win!

The blend of dressing and mayonnaise in Barbara Drexler's Southern Antipasto Salad is delish ... a great combination of tangy and creamy. If you have a hard time finding the Italian blend cheese Barbara recommends, don't worry. We used an unseasoned Italian cheese blend and it still worked very well.

Barbara also has a great tip if the salad looks a little dry after sitting overnight. "Whisk more may and salad dressing together and add to [the pasta] before topping with seasoning and Parmesan cheese." This recipe has the wonderful flavors of an antipasto plate but in salad form. Yum!

One of the best things about pasta salad is you can use up items you probably already have and come up with one tasty recipe. Open the kitchen cabinets and the fridge and see what you can come up with. We'd love for you to share your recipe with us!

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Mary Kay Nugent - Jun 24, 2014
Janet...thank you for sharing all of these pasta salad recipes...I'm a pastaholic ...LOVE pasta anything...I wish you would give my recipe for this special pasta salad a try..it's something different...colorful and gets rave reviews and people begging for the recipe every time I make it... Family Reunion Pasta Salad

Please let me know what you think...

Mary K. Nugent
barb quinn - Jun 24, 2014
I have been making the sweet pasta for years, and I do the same as Janine. The pasta seems to absorb the flavors of the vinegar, sugar and milk so much better if the pasta is warm.
Janine Lehman - Jun 24, 2014
I make this pasta salad all the time. I add vinegar sugar and condensed milk to warm pasta. Put in the frig to cool then I add Mayo and mix well.
doris russell - Jun 24, 2014
Thanks Donna.
Donna Zolezzi - Jun 24, 2014
I use oil and vinegar to dress the salad and add some creamy blue cheese dressing or Ranch to be able to coat the pasta. I add sliced black olives, sliced green olives, red onion, and bell pepper to make it crunchy. I rinse the pasta with cool water while I am chopping vegetables and getting the ingredients ready. The pasta should be cool enough to mix everything together and chill in the fridge until ready to eat or transport.
doris russell - Jun 24, 2014
Hi, I want to make the Sweet Macaroni Salad and wonder if i should rinse and cool the pasta prior to adding the other ingredients.