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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 stopping by!  I always appreciate your support, sharing likes and follows.  Until next time,

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