Momma’s Hearty Pasta Salad

Any cookout I am invited to, I am quick to scour the buffet table of edible goodness until my eyes are fixed on the beautiful selection of salads- potato, macaroni, fruit and my favorite… Pasta salad! All just waiting to be devoured. And who better to put away a big plate of pasta salad than me? I think of it as my duty to help rid the world of dreaded leftovers that just hang out in the fridge after being forgotten. That’s acceptable, right?

If I’m asked to bring a dish or if I have a cookout of my own, you can guarantee that I am the one who brings the pasta salad. It’s always been a tradition of my mom and mine to make it for big events and it’s highly requested. Momma is a believer that a good pasta salad should be hearty and have just the right amount of dressing that is neither too wet or too dry.

Hearty Pasta Salad

After many years of making it, we found that a good pasta salad starts with a quality dressing and is best the next day as the flavors have time to really infuse into the noodles and veggies. If, after 24 hours, the salad is dry, we can simply add more dressing in as needed. Of course, you don’t have to wait a whole day to dig in but it’s like a good chicken noodle soup- always better the longer it sits.

I’m sure that there are plenty of versions similar to this, and maybe even identical, but this is how we make ours and it’s a favorite to anyone who has tried it. So, if you need something to bring to your next gathering, give this recipe a try!

Momma’s Hearty Pasta Salad


  • 1 lb. Rainbow (tri-colored) Rotini noodles
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 package of sliced pepperoni
  • 1 can of black olives, drained and sliced or halved
  • 1/2 block of pepper jack cheese, diced or small crumbles
  • 1/2 block of Colby Jack cheese, diced or small crumbles
  • 1- 16oz. bottle of Italian Dressing (our favorite is wishbone)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook rotini noodles according to package. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking of the noodles. Add to large bowl with lid.
  2. Dice tomatoes (saving the juice that comes out), onions, cucumber and peppers. Toss everything in with bowl of noodles.
  3. Slice pepperoni’s into half circles, separate and add to the pasta salad mix.
  4. Add olives, pepper jack and colby jack cheeses.
  5. Toss in half the bottle of dressing and the 1/3 cup parmesan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours (or over night).
  6. Right before serving, add remainder of dressing (more or less as desired).


  • Don’t have tomatoes on hand? No problem. Just use a can of diced tomatoes and be sure to add the juice from the can as well.
  • Halved cherry tomatoes are also a great substitute for the whole tomatoes.
  • Every now and then I will switch out or add different ingredients to my pasta. I have been known to use: Broccoli florets; carrots (thinly julienned); green olives; yellow onions; summer sausage (thinly sliced and halved)

I hope you like this recipe for Momma’s Hearty Pasta Salad. You really can’t go wrong with it. Your results all depend on what you like best so don’t be afraid to play around with different variations, dressings or noodles. This just just how we like to make ours and it’s never failed us.

Got a different variation of pasta salad that you like best? Share it with me. I would love to give it a try for my next cookout.

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Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Alrighty Folks, please don’t crucify me… It’s been a long past few Garlic Roasted Asparagusweeks and as most of you may know (if you’ve been keeping up with my blogs) I have been practically chained to my homework. This left me with little time to cook and in turn… little time for blog posts. (I know, the horror!). I am FINALLY on a much needed fall break from school. In that time, I did manage to make a few things so that when I got time I may share them with all of you foodies out there.

What better way to kick off my fall break of blogging than with Garlic Roasted Asparagus? Before last year, I have only heard of asparagus and never had the opportunity to try it for myself. When I did (OMG), it was heaven in my mouth. It’s seriously became a favorite veggie in my household. I try to pick up a bundle every time I hit up my local Kroger.

When I let you in on my little secret of how I make mine, your mouth will drop at how simple and fast it is to make this. If your skeptical, don’t be! This is a great side dish to almost any meal.

Garlic Roasted Asparagus


  • 1 Bundle of thick speared asparagus
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • olive oil for drizzling

DIREGarlic Roasted AsparagusCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Prepare asparagus by breaking off the woody ends. Lay them in a single layer on sheet pan.
  3. Drizzle
    lightly with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and garlic evenly over the asparagus.
  5. Roast for 10 minutes in the oven (if you have skinnier spears, shorten this time as the spears will become tough and stringy).
  6. Grab a plate, some asparagus and enjoy!

I hope you liked this recipe for my Garlic Roasted Asparagus. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Have a favorite side dish  recipe that you love, send it to me and I’ll give it a try.

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Cheesy, Garlicky Bread Rounds

  IMG_0365 copyA couple days ago, I posted the recipe for my all time favorite spaghetti sauce. In it, I suggested making it a meal by ladeling the sauce over a bed of pasta and adding a slice of Cheesy, Garlicky Bread rounds. The bread is such a great addition to any italian meal. I make this everytime we have spaghetti night.

The idea for my garlic bread came to me from our spaghetti nights at my mamaw’s house. Having a house full, spaghetti was a quick, easy, and an affordable meal that could be stretched between a lot of people (and when we were all there, that was A LOT). I remember her slathering on some garlic butter over slices of white bread, and sometimes even hamburger buns. After, she would toss them in the oven til they were nice and toasty and add a layer of shredded mozzarella. Back in the oven they would go until the cheese was melted and lightly browned. As simple as it was, it was one of my favorite things about those dinners. 

My garlic rounds are made very similar to hers, except I use french or italian loaves that I cut to my own thickness. I also use fresh garlic for an extra garlicky punch (warning to any vamps out there) where hers was made with garlic powder. This is not the traditional way to make garlic bread but this recipe is so easy and simple to prepare, it’s almost impossible to mess up. If you love super garlicky, garlic bread, this recipe is for you and there is absolutely no excuses for not being able to make it! 😉 

 Cheesy, Garlicky Bread Rounds


  • 1 Loaf of french or italian bread 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Slice bread to desired thickness. 
  3. Place on large cookie sheet. (Depending on how many slices you have, you may need 2 sheets).
  4. Cut butter in chunks and put into a small microwavable bowl along with the minced garlic. 
  5. Microwave 1-2 minutes (or until butter is completely melted and starting to bubble). 
  6. Using a pastry brush, evenly brush the garlic butter over the bread. 
  7. Place in oven for about 3-5 minutes. (The edges should start to turn a golden brown)
  8. Take out of oven and add a layer of cheese. 
  9. Place them back in the oven and allow the cheese to melt and start to brown.
  10. Make some spaghetti using my recipe, Sam’s Spaghetti Sauce, grab a slice of the garlic rounds, and dig in!

IMG_0356 copyNOTES:

  • When slicing bread, I typically slice mine to a 1 inch thickness and on the bias (angle).
  • When making the garlic butter, it’s always a good idea to put a napkin or paper towel over the bowl. Butter likes to pop and splatter, so I like to save myself the mess.
  • If you do not like to have garlic bits on your bread, you can always scoop the garlic out when ready to use the butter. I, however, love the extra punch so I leave them in. 
  • If you do not have a pastry brush on hand, a spoon works just as well. Just try to spread it evenly over the bread.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know in the comments how it turned out for you! Have a recipe you want me to try out? Leave me a comment with your suggestion and I’ll pick one to prepare for the future! 🙂 

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