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Hearty Sea Shell Pasta Salad

I’ve been making this hearty sea shell pasta salad for years and it’s always a crowd-pleaser! Great for summer picnics and fall tailgates/football parties, alike. Packed with ham, cheese, and a mustard-flavored dressing, you won’t be able to contain yourself to just one serving.

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Nobody puts together a cookbook like church groups or Junior League members across the south! One of my all-time favorites is Putting on the Grits – a cookbook chock full of wonderful recipes created by the Junior League of Columbia, SC in the mid-80s. The recipe below is just one of many from that book that I make year after year and that continues to stand up to the test of time.

Sea Shell Pasta Salad

  • 12 ounces pasta shells, cooked & drained
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups cubed cooked ham
  • 1 cup cubed Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped black olives (I like a salty variety like Kalamata)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard (I used Dijon-style mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Marinate cooked shells in Italian dressing at least 2 hours. Add onions, green pepper, celery, ham, and cheese. In a separate bowl, combine olives with the mayonnaise and the remaining four ingredients. Toss with the pasta mixture.

NOTE: For this batch, I had summer sausage on hand which I used in place of the chopped ham. I also usually cook the whole box of pasta (16 ounces) and increase the Italian dressing marinade slightly.

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Serve with a garnish of basil. For an alternate serving idea, spoon salad over a bed of large lettuce leaves or use to stuff hollowed out tomatoes.

hearty pasta salad | zesty pasta salad | best pasta salad

Another favorite recipe from this same cookbook is Pork Chops Victoria. Be sure to add it to your bookmarks for fall.


Thanks so much for likes, shares and follows! Until next time,

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