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Mrs. Coop’s Pasta Salad

This recipe comes from our Production Assistant, Claudia, and her mom, Karen Cooper.

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Growing up in the Midwest, I was very grateful to have a pool during the humid summer months. What went well with a pool was pool parties! While my dad fired up the grill with hamburgers and German brats, my mom knew our family and friends would be wanting her pasta salad on the side, filled with Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese and crispy fresh veggies that are cool and colorful.

My mom was not a baker because of the intricate measurements and orderly directions so with her pasta salad, she always believed there are no exact measurements required. We recently mixed up this salad in the 12 Tomatoes kitchen, and it brought me back to Fourth of July Picnics and dinners out on the patio. Make sure you make a little extra, as my mom believes it’s “always better on the second day!”

The base is tri-colored noodles, extra points if it’s the Wacky Mac brand, which is my mom’s preferred pasta brand for this salad. Since this salad doesn’t have any green in it, these noodles do a nice job adding some more color.

Most deli pasta salads use bottled Italian dressing. My mom prefers Italian dressing packets, following the directions printed on the back. This gives the salad a fresher, homemade taste. The pasta will soak up a bit of the dressing, so you can add a little extra oil or vinegar to taste, sometimes even extra Italian spices you have in your cabinet.

The traditional mix-ins for this salad are red onion, olives, grape tomatoes, cubed cheese and summer sausage. But I haven’t eaten meat in several years so I might swap the sausage out for cucumbers, celery or green onion! If there is a mix-in that you don’t enjoy, replace it with a vegetable or cheese you prefer.

After mixing up your dressing, now comes the easy part. Throw in all of your mix-ins, pour on your dressing on top and toss! These vibrant ingredients and tangy, light dressing makes this pasta salad a summer favorite. Make this recipe your own with your favorite ingredients and enjoy!

Yield(s): Serves 6-8

10m prep time

20m cook time

Rated 5.0 out of 5
Rated by 1 reviewers

Allergens: Gluten, Milk

When you share or print a 12 Tomatoes recipe,
you're making mealtime meaningful.
100% of the Share to Care sponsor fees fund meals for families in need. Learn More
  • 1 box (12 oz.) tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1 Italian dressing seasoning packet
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup summer sausage, cubed
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 1 can large pitted black olives, halved
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  1. In a large pot of salted water, boil pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, combine seasoning packet, oil, water, vinegar, oregano and Italian seasoning and mix until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, olives, tomatoes, sausage, cheese and onion.
  4. Drizzle dressing into bowl with ingredients and toss until fully combined.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.