Variations on Mom’s Pasta Salad Recipe

| 5/10/2011 9:19:10 AM

KCAfter demolishing any semblance of a manicure Sunday afternoon grubbing around in the garden in my bare hands, I had worked up quite an appetite. Suddenly—maybe in honor of Mother’s Day—the thought popped into my head that it would be great to make my mom’s recipe for pasta salad.

She never called it “pasta,” of course. Back in the day, it was either “macaroni” or “noodles” or maybe, if we were being exotic, “spaghetti.” (“Pasta” was a couple of decades later, followed soon by Perrier and the banishment of any recipe containing Jello or a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup—both staples of my pantry of origin.)

Ham Pasta SaladCall it macaroni or pasta, I had a powerful hankering for the delicious cold pasta salad Mother used to make—and the ingredients to make it. With, of course, a few substitutions. Mom made her salad with cooked macaroni, cubed ham, green peas and the ingredient I treasured most back then: Velveeta! I had neither macaroni, green peas nor Velveeta, but I did have some ham and a bag of rotini.

Game on!

Once again, herbs made the difference between “pretty good” and “I could just stand here and eat this all day.”

Instead of the green peas, I used some fresh asparagus I’d just picked from my friends' farm. I cooked the asparagus for one minute in the microwave and slipped it in the refrigerator to chill while I cooked the rotini. After the pasta cooled, I mixed it with the ham (also from my friends’ farm), chopped onions (recipe follows) and asparagus, then began to seriously fiddle with Mom’s homey recipe.