Monday, May 15, 2017

Jan's Copycat Pasta Salad

It just isn't summer without a good pasta salad, is it?

Or maybe I feel that way because my husband and I set up housekeeping in the 80's...and that's so last century!

We remember the 80's, right? When everyone was talking about Princess Di and Prince William instead of Kate Middleton and Prince George? When we thought men looked good in pink shirts? When we were so happy those 70's fashions were behind us? When every restaurant, including KFC, had a salad bar?

And when no one even thought of showing up at a family or church get-together without a pasta salad!

Pasta salads are still pretty popular, especially on restaurant salad bars. There's one restaurant that still has a huge salad bar - Ruby Tuesday - and I adore it! And my favorite salad on their spread? Their famous pasta salad, of course!

For some reason, my husband doesn't want to head off to the restaurant every time I get a craving for their pasta salad, so I've come up with my own version.

It's perfect for family and church get-togethers all summer long.

Jan's Copycat Pasta Salad


1 lb box rotini pasta (or your favorite pasta shape)
1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons horseradish sauce (or 1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 green pepper, diced (optional if you're like me and green peppers don't agree with you)
2 Tablespoons diced red onion
2 cups ham, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (the kind in the green can)

At this point, I realized that I had forgotten to take pictures of this recipe! You'll just have to let your imagination illustrate the process!

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water - you want to chill it down as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the ranch dressing, mayo, horseradish sauce, salt, and pepper. Add the green pepper, onion, ham and peas, and stir to combine.

Add the cooled and drained pasta, and stir again.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Just before serving, stir in the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

All that's left is to enjoy your throwback to the 80's!

Meanwhile, we're still enjoying spring here in the Black Hills.

Because this happened:

We planted this cherry tree a few years ago. The first year it bloomed beautifully, but I let the birds eat all the cherries (aka, I didn't get them protected in time). Last year we had a late cherries. But this year, well, we'll see if the birds get all the fruit again. I can't really complain. We planted it mainly to attract birds to our yard!

And then this happened:

The Holt Medallion Contest finalists were announced over the weekend, and Mattie is on the list!!! I'm so happy for this favorite heroine of mine. :)

And our own Cate Nolan shared a picture of Mattie at her local Barnes & Noble! She sure is traveling!

Don't forget that the e-book versions of both Hannah's Choice and Mattie's Pledge are on sale, just in time to catch up with the series before Naomi's Hope releases on June 6th! Go to my website,, for links to your favorite on-line retailer.

So, let's chat! It's throwback time! What is your favorite memory from the 80's?


  1. I absolutely, positively love those covers and the sweet words within!!! And I have not tried a pasta salad with ranch dressing, so this is going on the must try list, Jan, because we love pasta salads around here... and this sounds delicious. And it's only 3 WEEKS UNTIL RELEASE DAY FOR BOOK 3!!!!!

    Isn't that marvelous????????

    Happy dancing for you!

    1. Thank you, Ruthy! I'm so excited for Naomi's release!

      And I ran across the ranch dressing idea on the internet somewhere, and I liked it. But when I zipped it up with the! It isn't hot or spicy, but just adds an extra zing that is often missing in pasta salads. :)

  2. Jan, congratulations on the Hold nomination!!! Woo hoo!!

    And thanks for the recipe. We love the Ruby Tuesday salad bar!

    1. Thanks, Missy!

      And enjoy the salad. :)

  3. I love that wedding picture, Jan!!!!!!! And I love pasta salad but I never make it. I should change that with this recipe since we are finally getting summer weather...we kind of skipped spring. It's going up into the 30s later this week. Ugh. That's mid 80s. Definitely cold food kind of weather.

    Congrats on the nomination. Mattie deserves it!

    1. It sounds like you're definitely moving into cold food weather!

      One thing I love about this salad (and many others) is that you can make a batch, and it lasts about five days in the fridge. So five days of lunch ready and waiting for you!

      That's heaven right there. :)

  4. Congratulations on the Holt nomination, Jan. I was so happy to see your name on the list!

    80's memories? I got married and both of my daughters were born in the 80's. Otherwise, I remember the shoulder pads. Everyone had big shoulders a la Dynasty actresses.

    1. I can't believe I forgot the shoulder pads!!! Don't you love watching old episodes of shows like Dynasty or Murder She Wrote and seeing all the old fashions we've forgotten? Like parachute pants?

      But I still believe 80's fashion was a blessed relief after the '70's. LOL!

    2. Oh, and big hair. I can't believe all the big hair from the 80's!