It's only the beginning of March here in Minnesota, but we've been super lucky and had some great weather..65 degrees yesterday! Thus, the thoughts of cold pasta salads and summer fare have been floating in my brain once again (even though I know another gigantic snowfall could hit any day again and sink us all into a deep depression..we will enjoy it until then and "pretend" it's all a bad dream and summer is around the corner. Anyway, I decided it was a good time to make my ham and cheese pasta salad and burgers on the grill and watermelon for supper tonight..Joe, my son, agreed wholeheartedly, and will be joining us tonight. I made it this morning so the flavors can soak into the pasta (it's actually better the second day, so nice thing to make for pot lucks if you want to make it the day ahead). Here's how I make it..it's not a true recipe..I kind of just throw things in, so if you want more ham, cheese or any ingredient, just add more to your taste..this is just a general guideline..
1 box of you favorite pasta-I usually use shells, medium or small because I like the dressing to suck into the shells, cooked according to package directions. drain well and rinse until cool enough so it won't melt the cheese. I also throw a handful of petite frozen peas to cook with the pasta.
While it's cooking..in a larger sized container..add
about 1-1/2 cups small diced ham (I just bought the diced ham in a package and used about half of it this time).
about 1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or if you prefer, shredded swiss will work too.
a few green onions finely diced (or you can just use some finely diced onion-a few Tablespoons)
1 to 1-1/2 cups Miracle Whip salad dressing.
1/8 cup Western dressing.
a few Tablespoons of sweet pickle relish, or a few sweet pickles finely chopped and some of the juice.
some pepper and minimal salt, plus a sprinkle of celery seed (or you can add some finely chopped celery if you like that in your cold salads.
Mix this together and add your cool pasta and peas. Mix well and sprinkle the top with regular paprika for color and flavor. Cool well and serve. IF IT SEEMS DRY AFTER SITTING JUST PUT ABOUT 1 CUP OF MIRACLE WHIP, ABOUT 1/2 CUP MILK AND A DASH OF SUGAR AND MIX IT IN WELL TO MOISTEN IT UP BEFORE SERVING..ADD AS MUCH AS YOU NEED TO MAKE IT THE CONSISTENCY YOU LIKE.