Pasta salads are so versatile. For one, it is quite filling and can easily be served for lunch or as a light dinner. We usually have this Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad on a Friday night, especially when the weather is hot and humid.
Something I do not like much about pasta salads, is that the salads are usually doused in dressing, whether it be a Mayonnaise dressing or something else.
The dressing I use in this recipe is just enough to add flavor and to not get the salad buried way under Mayonnaise. You can of course double or even triple the quantity of dressing if you prefer a moister salad.
When we have guests over, I make an additional batch of the dressing and serve it on the side. That way each guest can help themselves to more (which does happen a lot). People's taste are different and whenever I am in doubt (with salads) I always serve either the dressing on the side, or as with this recipe, a little in the salad and a small bowl next to the salad bowl.
The pasta salad itself is very simple, with everyday ingredients. I get a thick cut of Ham from our local deli and chop it into small bite-sized cubes, but when we had home cooked Ham a day or two before and have some leftovers, I prefer to use that.
Now and then I would also add Pineapple but only when I am sure the salad will be eaten the same day as I have found the Pineapple makes the salad a little too acidic the next day. If I do make the salad the night before, I only add the Pineapple the following day and not more than 2 - 3 hours in advance.
One other thing about this salad is that you have to let it chill a couple of hours (2 hours at least) in order for all the flavors to really work together.
Ham And Cheese Pasta Salad
3 cups Macaroni, cooked and cooled
1 1/2 cups Cooked Ham, cubed
1 1/2 cups Gouda Cheese, cubed
1/2 cup Spring Onions, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
3 TB Mayonnaise
2 TB Olive Oil
1 TB Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t Black Pepper
1.) Combine the Pasta, Ham, Cheese, Spring Onions and red Bell Pepper in a large mixing bowl.
2.) Whisk together the Mayonnaise, Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper - pour over the Pasta mixture and stir through - cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
Transfer to a serving bowl and serve chilled.
ps: If possible, let the salad chill longer - it only makes the salad better !