Mitch’s Loaded Pasta Salad is substantial enough to serve as a main dish, but it also goes well with picnic sandwiches, grilled meat, or barbecue. It was developed by my son Mitch who loves pasta and is a ranch dressing fanatic. Invitations to barbecues given by his friends always include an invitation to bring this salad, not only because it is delicious, but also because it makes a huge amount.
The only thing that takes any hands-on prep time while preparing this salad is the chopping of the ham, cheese, pepperoni, and green onions. You can now purchase these items already chopped, which will cost you more, but will save some precious time. The ingredients can be cut while the pasta is cooking, however, and the whole thing can be put together in about 30 minutes. The pasta is cooled quickly by rinsing in cold water, and to chill it even more, you can spread it on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. I like the fact that the salad improves after sitting for a few hours in the refrigerator and for convenience, can be made up to 2 days ahead. As a variation, you can add some chopped carrots, celery, and/or red or green bell peppers.
If you’re feeding a crowd, Mitch’s Loaded Pasta Salad is the perfect choice. It transports well, and since ranch dressing is so popular, will be a hit with family and friends - even the kids.
Mitch's Loaded Pasta Salad
2 12 oz. packages Radiatore pasta, or spirals; for more color, use the tri-colored variety
1 tablespoon salt
1 package ranch dressing mix, (1.125 ounce)
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Italian dressing
1 pound lean ham, (from a center cut slice) cut in small dice (1/4")
3/4 pound provolone or cheddar cheese (or a mixture of both), cut into 1/4" dice
1 package pepperoni, (5 ounce) cut into 1/4" dice
1 bunch green onions including tops, chopped
1 8 oz. can pitted black olives, drained and sliced the long way (or use the ones that are already sliced, but don’t tell Mitch – he thinks they taste different sliced the long way!)
1 to 2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt, or to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the pasta and the salt.
- Cook the pasta until it is just tender, stirring occasionally.
- Dump into a colander over the sink, rinse with cold water, and let drain thoroughly; transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing mix, milk, and mayonnaise; let sit 10 minutes or until thickened; stir in the Italian dressing.
- Pour half of the prepared dressing over the pasta and stir.
- Add the remaining ingredients, and enough additional dressing to moisten (use additional dressing for tossed green salad).
- Sprinkle with a liberal amount (or to taste) of the seasoning salt and mix it in the salad thoroughly.
- If you have time, refrigerate several hours or overnight to blend flavors.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 270 Calories from Fat 132
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 49% Protein 16% Carb. 35%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 5 g
Cholesterol 23 mg
Sodium 956 mg
Total Carbohydrate 24 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 11 g
Vitamin A 4% Vitamin C 5% Calcium 0% Iron 5%