Chili Mac Skillet (One Pan Meal)

Supper never fails to satisfy when you serve this Chili Mac Skillet. This cheesy, meaty meal combines ground beef, macaroni, and cheddar cheese in a thick tomato sauce enriched with beef broth.

Make this your go-to recipe when you need to stretch your food budget and still put a smile on everyone’s face! Serve this hearty meal with a light tomato cucumber salad and a slice of garlic bread to soak up every last drop!

Chli Mac in a skillet topped with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese

What is Chili Mac?

Chili Mac is a fresh take on an American Goulash recipe, with a flavorful Tex-Mex flair, thanks to the addition of chili powder and herbs. Make it on the stovetop in a pot for an easy meal that’s a breeze to prep!

Ingredients for Chili Mac

Not only is the shopping, prepping and cooking for this homemade one pot meal super easy, but cleanup is a breeze too. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  •  Base: ground beef, beef broth, elbow macaroni
  • Toppings: cheddar cheese
  • Veggies: crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, garlic cloves
  • Sugar & Spice: parsley, basil, oregano, chili powder, beef bouillon cube, sugar

Substitutions

If you prefer, substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef and use chicken broth and bouillon. Penne pasta, rotini or shells will also serve in place of the macaroni. Add canned black beans, bell peppers or corn to stretch this recipe even more.

For maximum flavor and bite, use extra sharp cheddar. Pepper jack or Colby also work well in this recipe. Consider giving chili mac more of a Mexican vibe by getting creative with cumin powder, jalapenos, or chopped cilantro.

Ingredients to make Chili Mac in a large skillet

To Make this One Pan Skillet Meal

Follow these simple steps and you’ll have dinner on the table in a flash:

  1. Brown the ground beef with onion and garlic and drain off any fat.
  2. Add all the ingredients to the same pan (per recipe below) expect the cheese.
  3. Cover and cook until the macaroni is tender, stirring occasionally.

Once cooked, adjust seasoning, top with shredded cheddar, a sprinkle of green onion or cilantro and serve.

An overhead image of chili mac ready to serve

Don’t Forget the Sides!

The beauty of one pot meals like this is that you don’t have to fuss too much with sides. Serve chili mac with tortilla chips or tangy panzanella salad for a welcome crunch.

Baked corn on the cob or tomato avocado salad are also tasty and light sides that will complement the stick-to-your-ribs heartiness of chili mac.

How to Reheat It

This is a terrific meal to make in advance to allow the flavors to deepen and develop. Chili mac will keep in the fridge for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to four months.

To reheat, thaw and then pop into the microwave until steaming hot. Or you can take it straight from the freezer to the oven and bake until bubbling hot throughout.

Macaroni Madness

Chili Mac Skillet

Creamy tex-mex infused pasta skillet!

  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3/4 pound dry macaroni noodles
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried parsley, basil and oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  1. Finely dice the onion (or grate with a cheese grater). Add onion, beef and garlic to a pan over medium heat. Cook until no pink remains. Drain any fat.

  2. Add remaining ingredients except cheese. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and cover.

  3. Stirring occasionally, let cook 13-17 minutes or until macaroni is cooked through (add a little bit of water if needed).

  4. Season with salt & pepper to taste and serve warm topped with cheese.

 

Chili Mac Skillet served in a white bowl and garnished with shredded cheddar and fresh parsley.
Chili Mac Skillet served in a white bowl and garnished with shredded cheddar and fresh parsley.
Top photo - Chili Mac Skillet served in a white bowl and garnished with shredded cheddar and fresh parsley. Bottom photo - Chili Mac cooked and ready in the skillet.

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian pasta salad is one of my favorite cold pasta salad dishes!  Fresh and colorful vegetables, cheese, salami, and Italian vinaigrette are tossed with your favorite pasta to create an unforgettable dish for just about any summer occasion.

Pasta salads are one of my go to potluck dishes from easy and fresh Greek Pasta Salad to a delicious Caesar Pasta Salad and of course my famous Dill Pickle Pasta Salad! Not only does everyone love them, pasta salads are super easy to make and  they’re even better when made ahead of time!

A bowl full of colorful Italian Pasta salad ready for a potluck!

Potluck Perfect Pasta Salad

Whenever summer rolls around, we always seem to be headed to barbecues, potlucks, and patio parties. Of course I’m always asked to bring a big pitcher of Classic Mojitos (it’s the drink I’m known for) but I almost always bring a cold pasta salad recipe along too!

This Italian Pasta Salad recipe is a really fun twist on a classic pasta salad because it’s loaded with so many goodies. It travels well and goes with pretty much anything.

Big Bold Flavors

This easy pasta salad recipe is loaded with flavor, you can add in your own favorite Italian inspired ingredients; diced artichokes and sun dried tomatoes also make great additions! 

Ingredients for pasta salad:

  • Bold Flavors: cheese, salami, olives and Italian seasonings add a big punch of flavor
  • Crunch: Bell pepper adds great  for color, crunch and flavor
  • Veggies: I love the juicy tang tomatoes add, throw in some cucumbers or any veggies you have on hand

A small serving of colorful Italian Pasta salad ready for a potluck!

Noodles for Pasta Salad

Tri-color rotini does an amazing job at holding the cheese and Italian dressing in the crevices for max flavor, but you can use shells, or whatever medium noodles you happen to have handy!

Cook the pasta al dente so it isn’t mushy and it holds up well to the dressing.

Tips to Make the Perfect Italian Pasta Salad

  • Cut your veggies small: Cutting your vegetables into pieces slightly smaller than bite-sized will ensure that you get a taste of everything in each bite!
  • Don’t overcook your noodles: Overcooking will make a mushy pasta salad as the acids from the dressing will break down the starches farther. Shock your noodles once they are cooked al dente in cold water for best results!
  • Cool your pasta before adding the toppings: You don’t want to begin to cook your vegetables while you toss everything together!
  • Let your pasta salad sit before you serve it: This gives the dressing a chance to really permeate your veggies and pasta, resulting in a more flavorful and delicious Italian pasta salad!
  • Keep it colorful: If you are adding some extra veggies you have on hand, keep your pasta salad fun and colorful! I love adding things like artichokes, shredded carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, etc.

A bowl full of colorful Italian Pasta salad ready for a party!

Italian Pasta Salad Dressing

To make this recipe quick and easy, I use a bottled Italian dressing but of course homemade Italian Dressing is amazing if you have the ingredients on hand.

Make ahead… The best thing about this pasta salad recipe is that it gets better as it sits and the flavors blend! It’s the perfect make ahead side dish, it takes 20 only about minutes to prepare. What could be better than that?

As this Italian pasta salad sits in the fridge, the acids in the dressing actually work to help break down the starches in the pasta and the proteins in the veggies, resulting in a more flavorful and tender pasta salad (so be sure not to overcook your noodles)!

To Make Homemade Italian Dressing combine the following:

Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes

Italian Pasta Salad

Tender pasta, ripe juicy tomatoes, crisp bell peppers, salami and mozzarella cheese are tossed in an Italian dressing for the perfect make ahead side dish.

  • 16 oz tricolor rotini
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (cubed)
  • 1/3 cup red onion (diced)
  • 8 oz salami (chopped)
  • 1 cup bottled Italian vinaigrette dressing
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss.
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Repin this Super Summer Salad!

Italian pasta salad is one of my favorite cold pasta salad dishes!  Fresh and colorful vegetables, cheese, salami, and Italian vinaigrette are tossed with your favorite pasta to create an unforgettable dish for just about any summer occasion. #spendwithpennies #summersalad #pastasalad #easysidedish #easyrecipe #pastarecipe #healthyrecipe #freshsidedish

One Pot Pasta with Chicken (Tomato Cream Sauce)

Chicken Pasta dishes can be ready in no time at all and this easy one pot recipe goes straight from the stove to the table in less than 30 minutes. An flavorful combination of chicken, cheese, and tomatoes in a tomato cream sauce all made with just one pot! 

While a full meal on its own, this pasta dish tastes delicious served with a side of homemade garlic bread or a light side salad.

Close up of one pot chicken pasta.

What’s in Chicken Pasta?

This dish is full of creamy cheeses, chicken, and a combination of savory flavors like garlic, tomatoes and Italian seasoning…all blended together for this hearty entrée that even makes great leftovers!

This easy recipe has a tomato cream sauce and is topped with cheese for an easy meal.

How to Make This One Pot Pasta

This recipe is super easy and versatile, with just one pot! Using the basic recipe, you can add your favorite flavors to make it your own!  

  1. Cook the chicken and set aside.
  2. Add seasoning (per recipe below), tomatoes and cream. Stir in uncooked pasta and simmer until pasta is tender.
  3. Add cheese and enjoy!

It’s that easy!! The pasta is cooked right in the sauce meaning no extra pots or strainers for cooking. Depending on the brand of pasta you have, you may need to add a bit more broth or water towards the end to cook the pasta. Add about 1/2 cup at a time as needed.

Overview of one pot chicken pasta.

Can You Make This in Advance?

One pot chicken pasta can definitely be made in advance, just keep it in a covered container and then pour it all into a skillet and reheat on low on the stovetop.

When you reheat it you may need to add a splash of milk or cream if the pasta has soaked up a lot of the sauce.

More One-Pot Meals

One Pot Chicken Pasta

If you’re looking for something simple to put together in just a few minutes, you’re going to LOVE this! Super easy and versatile, with just one pot!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast (diced into 1/2" cubes)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (+ 1/2 cup extra if needed)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz penne (or medium pasta)
  • 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (divided)
  1. Season chicken with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil over medium heat and cook chicken until no pink remains. Set aside.

  2. Add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook until onion is tender, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add seasoning, parsley, 3 cups broth, tomatoes and cream and bring to a boil. Add pasta. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender and thickened. If you need, add 1/2 cup broth till pasta is cooked. Mix in 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

  4. Add the chicken back to skillet, top with mozzarella cheese and remaining 1/4 cup parmesan, then broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.

Overview of One Pot Chicken Pasta.
Overview of One Pot Chicken Pasta.
Top image - overview of one pot chicken pasta, bottom image - chicken pasta ingredients in a pot.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta is a simple and flavorful homemade ready in under 30 minutes.  Made with chicken breast, pasta, and plenty of fresh, colorful veggies with Cajun Seasoning is an easy meal!

This Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe is one of my family’s favorite meals all-year ’round.

Cajun Chicken Pasta on a white plate

Easy Chicken Pasta

This pasta dish has a creamy cajun sauce that coats every bite.

Pasta for Cajun Chicken: 8 oz of your favorite medium pasta is perfect in this recipe, I like to make mine using Penne pasta (like Chili’s Cajun Chicken Pasta penne dish). Linguine is another a popular option to make this Cajun Chicken Pasta tasty! You can also substitute whole grain or whole wheat pasta for added nutritional value!

Cajun Chicken Pasta in a blue skillet

How to Make Cajun Chicken Pasta

My favorite part about this Cajun chicken pasta dish is that it’s easy to make.

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions and set aside.
  2. Season chicken, cook through, and remove to a plate to rest.
  3. Cook veggies and add sauce ingredients. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens.
  4. Add cheese, return chicken to the pan, and add pasta.

To Prep Chicken: I prefer to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces before cooking so the chicken has a lot of great flavor (as more surface area is covered with seasoning than if you seasoned/cooked the whole breast).

You could alternatively season and cook the chicken breasts whole, keep them removed from the pan after cooking, and then mix all of the other ingredients together and serve the chicken over your cooked pasta.

What should I serve with Cajun Chicken Pasta?

We often eat this creamy Cajun Chicken recipe without anything on the side, it’s a great stand alone meal. However, this time of year we also enjoy it with lighter side dishes including Caesar Salad, Corn on the Cob, or Corn Salad.

Jalapeno Cornbread will also make for a good, heartier, side! And will help scoop up any Cajun chicken  sauce left in your bowl too!

A blue skillet full of cajun chicken pasta

Can I make Cajun Chicken Pasta in Advance?

If you don’t wish to serve this dish right away, you can make it in advance to serve later, and in fact the flavors will develop even more as it sits!

Keep in mind that the pasta will absorb a lot of the sauce, so your dish will be less creamy if you make it in advance and store all the ingredients together.

Another alternative would be to prepare everything except for the pasta, and then to cook the pasta fresh when you are ready to serve and add it to your other ingredients after re-heating them.

Keep your Cajun Chicken Pasta refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to enjoy.

More Chicken Pasta:

What is Cajun Seasoning Made of?

I have the perfect homemade cajun seasoning recipe! It’s a great option to use in this Cajun spice or seasoning contains tasty spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, seasoning salt, oregano, and thyme.

To give it its world famous kick, my Cajun seasoning contains chili flakes, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and smoky paprika!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta is a simple but incredibly flavorful homemade dinner that can be on the table in under 30 minutes.  

  • 8 oz penne pasta (cooked according to package instructions and drained)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter (divided)
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast (cut into 1" pieces)
  • 4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (divided)
  • 1/2 yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 green pepper (sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  1. Place 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat until melted.
  2. Meanwhile, combine 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a Ziploc bag. Add chopped chicken, zip closed, and shake until chicken is coated.
  3. Transfer chicken to heated pan and cook until chicken is browned and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  4. Add remaining Tablespoon of butter to pan and allow it to melt.
  5. Add peppers and onion and cook until beginning to soften (about 3-5 minutes).
  6. Add heavy cream, smoked paprika, basil, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking until sauce is thickened.

  7. Add parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Return cooked chicken and add cooked pasta, stir well and serve.

REPIN this Easy Pasta Recipe

Cajun Chicken Pasta served on a white plate

More Recipes You’ll Love

Slow Cooker Cajun Bean Turkey Soup Recipe

a ladle of Cajun Bean Turkey Soup in the crockpot

Skillet Orange Chicken Recipe

orange chicken in white skillet

 

Classic Baked Spaghetti

Classic Baked Spaghetti is the delicious casserole version of the traditional pasta and meat sauce. With multiple layers of cheesy buttered noodles, melted mozzarella cheese, and garlic beef sauce you’ll want to make this a new family favorite.

If you’re looking to add more pasta casseroles to your collection then try out this Chicken Parmesan Casserole, or this Cheesy Cheddar Chicken Spaghetti Casserole. Don’t miss this similar version of Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole either.

Classic Baked Spaghetti

Classic Baked Spaghetti

Whether you’re hitting up a pot luck luncheon or in need a casserole to feed the entire family this classic baked spaghetti is always a favorite option. Simple and satisfying are the main qualities of this classic comfort meal that boast a large number of servings.

With simple no-fuss ingredients such as spaghetti, pasta sauce, and cheese you’ll find this easy to prepare dish is one everybody will love.

Classic Baked Spaghetti

How to Make Baked Spaghetti

There are three main steps to the assembly and prep of this classic baked spaghetti starting with the prep of the noodles. Cook them according to the package directions, and once you’ve drained them you’ll toss them with the butter, parmesan cheese, and egg mixture.

As the noodles are cooking prepare the meat sauce layer by browning the meat and onions and then stirring in the pasta sauce.

Layer it all together starting with the noodles, then the cottage cheese. Place the meat sauce on top and sprinkle with mozzarella. Repeat! Bake it all together and you’ve got one delicious meal that will last for days.

Classic Baked Spaghetti

Which Cheeses to Choose?

As with most casserole recipes, there are several ingredients that are optional or interchangeable. There is no hard line on the types of cheese you choose for your baked spaghetti, however, one that melts easily is mostly usually your best option. Cheeses such as mozzarella and cheddar are my personal favorites.

The cottage cheese layer can also be swapped for ricotta cheese or changed entirely to something like a parmesan. Use your favorite types of cheese and you’ll be happily satisfied.

Classic Baked Spaghetti

What to Serve with Baked Spaghetti?

The casserole itself can be considered a complete meal, however, if you’re looking to diversify your dish a bit then you can certainly add some flair with side dishes. Bread or rolls, such as these easy parmesan knots are an obvious choice, but if you’re looking for a healthier option try a salad such as this grilled caesar salad.

Classic Baked Spaghetti

Looking for More Easy Casseroles? Try these…

Classic Baked Spaghetti

Classic Baked Spaghetti is the delicious casserole version of the traditional pasta and meat sauce. With multiple layers of cheesy buttered noodles, melted mozzarella cheese, and garlic beef sauce you'll want to make this a new family favorite.

  • 16 ounces Spaghetti Noodles (1 package)
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 medium Onion (chopped)
  • 24 ounce Pasta Sauce Jar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 5 tablespoons Butter (melted)
  • 2 cups Cottage Cheese
  • 4 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Basil (chopped)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the spaghetti noodles in boiling water according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a large skillet brown the ground beef and chopped onion over medium-high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain and remove from heat. Season with salt and stir in the pasta sauce; set aside.

  3. Whisk the eggs, parmesan cheese, and melted butter together in a large bowl. Add the spaghetti to the mixture and toss to coat.

  4. Grease a 13×9 baking dish with oil and place half of the spaghetti on the bottom. Layer 1 cup of the cottage cheese on top of the noodles and then place 1/2 of the meat sauce on top. Sprinkle 2 cups of mozzarella cheese on top and repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Cover with foil and place the dish in the oven to bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook an additional 20 to 25 minutes more.

Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad

Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad combines tender fusilli pasta with fresh vegetables and a tangy herb dressing. Broccoli florets are briefly cooked, chilled and then tossed with noodles, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, olives, and feta cheese. A wholesome side dish to serve with grilled meats, pack for a picnic or barbecue.

If you’re looking for more nourishing vegetarian salads then try Farro Caprese Salad, Summer Corn Salad, or Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad

Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad

Add a Meditteranean twist to a typical pasta salad with just a few key ingredients. By combining fresh vegetables, kalamata olives, and creamy feta cheese to al dente fusilli pasta, it adds delicious Greek elements to each bite.

I’m always looking for ways to sneak in wholesome vegetables into each meal, and broccoli is one of the stars of this dish. Briefly cooking the broccoli ensures that each piece is tender and easy to eat.

To bring all of the ingredients together, a simple yet flavorful dressing is whipped up. An easy red wine vinegar dressing is whisked together and then drizzled all over the salad. The tangy and herbaceous flavors infuse into the pasta and vegetables for an irresistible appetizer or side dish.

How Do You Make Broccoli Pasta Salad?

  • Blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 2 minutes, and then chill in ice cold water.
  • Drain the broccoli before adding to the salad.
  • Cook the pasta in the same boiling water until al dente then drain and rinse under cool water.
  • In a large bowl combine the pasta, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and olives.
  • Sprinkle with feta cheese.
  • Make the salad dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is thickened.
  • Add the dressing and toss to combine with the pasta salad, or serve on the side.

cooking broccoli

How Do You Cook the Broccoli?

Broccoli is loaded with health benefits. However, can be extremely fibrous in texture and have a sulfurous taste when eaten raw. For this pasta salad recipe, I like to use a simple blanching method for cooking broccoli. It just takes 2 minutes to tenderize the vegetable, making it more palatable and sweeter in taste. Make sure to “shock” or chill the broccoli in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. I often use this process when making broccoli salad.

What Type of Pasta is used?

Fusilli pasta is a corkscrew shape that allows the dressing to stick on to the noodle. Any other type of pasta can be used like farfalle, rotini, or Gemelli works well too.

Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad ingredients

What Ingredients are added to the Pasta Salad?

A colorful mix of fresh vegetables is added to the salad. There are different types of broccoli that can be used, I selected calabrese which is the most common found in the grocery store.

Sweet cherry tomatoes add a burst of flavor, but any vine-ripened type would be delicious. Green bell peppers and chopped red onions add a nice crunch. Kalamata olives are essential in Greek cuisine, as well as tangy Feta cheese.

How is the Dressing Prepared?

The red wine vinegar is vigorously whisked with the mustard, honey, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper to infuse the flavors together. Make sure to very slowly add the olive oil, so that the dressing becomes thickened and emulsified. If making the dressing ahead of time whisk again right before serving.

How Long Will the Broccoli Pasta Salad Last?

The pasta salad will last for about 3 days covered and refrigerated. It’s best to add the dressing right before serving for the best flavor and so that the pasta does not become soggy. You can prepare the components ahead of time and then toss with the dressing.

close up of Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad

Looking for more Greek recipes? Try these ones!

Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad

Greek Broccoli Pasta Salad combines tender fusilli pasta with fresh vegetables and a tangy herb dressing.

Broccoli Pasta Salad-

  • 7 quarts of water (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups ice
  • 4 cups broccoli florets (cut into 1-inch pieces (8 ounces))
  • 1 pound fusilli pasta
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper (1/2-inch dice)
  • ½ cup diced red onion (¼-inch dice)
  • ½ cup kalamata olives (sliced)
  • ¼ cup crumbled Feta cheese

Dressing-

  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a large pot add 6 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt, and then bring water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the broccoli florets and cook until bright green in color and crisp-tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Do not discard the water.
  3. Transfer broccoli to a bowl filled with 4 cups (1 quart) water and 4 cups ice to stop the cooking process, about 5 minutes. Drain the broccoli well.

  4. Return water to a boil, add pasta and cook, stirring as needed until tender, about 9 to 11 minutes.
  5. Drain pasta and rinse with cool water for 10 seconds, leaving the noodles slightly wet.
  6. In a large serving bowl toss together pasta, broccoli, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and olives.

  7. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top of broccoli pasta salad.
  8. In a medium sized bowl whisk together red wine vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

  9. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk until a thickened dressing is formed. If not using right away, which again before adding to the salad.
  10. Toss pasta salad with dressing or serve on the side.

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta Salad

This Bow Tie Pasta Salad is an easy, tasty side dish that is always a favorite at barbecues, potlucks, or even as a filling lunch! While I often make Italian Pasta Salad, this dish has a rich creamy dressing that’s hard to resist! Ham, cheddar and veggies are mixed in for the perfect potluck dish!

Serve alongside Hamburgers or grilled pork chops for a summer salad everyone loves!

A white serving bowl full of bow tie pasta salad with ham, cheddar and red peppers

Favorite Bowtie Pasta Salad Ingredients

While some of the basic ingredients may change, the star of this pasta salad is the bow tie shaped pasta!  Not only does it hold up well to the creamy mayo dressing but the shape complements round peas, diced pieces of ham and cheese. Like most pasta salad recipes,  you can add or remove ingredients based on what you have on hand; this recipe is very versatile.

  • Base: Bow Tie pasta (you can substitute any medium shaped pasta or even make Tortellini Salad).
  • Meat & Cheese: cheddar cheese & ham are my favorite choices. You can make bowtie pasta salad with feta and skip the ham and make it with chicken or pepperoni.
  • Veggies: I love pasta salad with peas! Add white onion (or swap for red or green), bell pepper (even chopped spinach works well).

These are just the basics! Get creative with what you have on hand and make your own custom summer bow tie pasta salad with items like sliced black olives, celery and even sun-dried tomatoes!

A bowl of bow tie pasta with salad ingredients in bowls around it.

How to Make Bowtie Pasta Salad

To make this pasta salad start by boiling the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, run it under really cold water to cool, this stops the cooking process so the noodles don’t get overcooked (and mushy)! Once you have that complete, it’s easy ‘peas’-y!

  1. Mix all the dressing ingredients in small bowl.
  2. Toss everything together and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Before taking a big scoop of tasty pasta salad, season with salt and pepper.

A bowl of bowtie pasta salad ingredients and dressing ready to be mixed

To Make Ahead

The flavors blend as this recipe sits making it the perfect make ahead party dish. If making more than a few hours ahead of time, be generous with the dressing as the pasta will soak it up a bit.

Got Leftovers?

Fridge: A bowtie pasta salad with ham can last 3-5 days in the fridge if it is kept cold and in a tightly sealed container.

Freezer: Pasta Salad doesn’t freeze well so prep this shortly before serving.

Close up of a prepared bow tie pasta salad in a creamy dressing

More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta Salad

A creamy bowtie pasta salad recipe with ham, peas and cheddar cheese!

  • 1 lb bow tie pasta
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (diced)
  • 1 cup ham (diced)
  • 3 tablespoons white onion (finely diced)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (defrosted)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (finely diced)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sweet relish
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Boil pasta al dente according to package directions.
  2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

 

This easy bow tie pasta salad is a family favorite! Made with bow tie pasta, peas, ham and cheese, topped with a creamy homemade mayo dressing. It's the perfect potluck, or barbecue dish and a super tasty lunch! #spendwithpennies #bowtiepastasalad #pastasalad #barbecue #sidedish
This easy bow tie pasta salad is a family favorite! Made with bow tie pasta, peas, ham and cheese, topped with a creamy homemade mayo dressing. It's the perfect potluck, or barbecue dish and a super tasty lunch! #spendwithpennies #bowtiepastasalad #pastasalad #barbecue #sidedish

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad is a favorite for a summer picnic, barbecue or even a potluck! Bright pesto, mozzarella cheese balls (AKA bocconcini), sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives are the perfect combination! I love pasta salad recipes and this is definitely near the top of my list!

Colorful and flavorful, this basil pesto pasta salad will wow any crowd! Serve it as a side with grilled honey mustard chicken or on its own with a slice of homemade garlic bread!

Image of prepared pesto pasta salad in a glass bowl with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and olives.

How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad combines our favorite Italian inspired ingredients in a creamy pesto dressing! Juicy ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and olives and zesty sundried tomatoes and the perfect combination.

  1. Pasta: Cook pasta al dente (‘to the bite’). Cool and set aside. Any medium pasta shape should work just fine!
  2. Dressing: Whisk together pesto, mayonnaise, and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
  3. Mix: Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and season with basil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Pesto pasta salad prepared in a glass bowl with the basil and dressing on the side.

Add Protein for a Full Meal

I love an Italian Pasta Salad and we often add proteins to for a complete meal on a warm summer night. Grilled chicken breasts are the perfect addition to this recipe to make it a full meal! Shrimp is another great addition.

I prefer to use homemade pesto to make the easy dressing for this pasta salad but store bought will work too. Use any leftover pesto to marinate your meats before grilling.

A serving of pesto pasta salad in a white bowl, garnished with basil.

Leftover Pasta Salad

This pasta salad will last for 4-5 days in the fridge. If you know you’ll be storing this for a few days, don’t half the cherry/grape tomatoes, keep them whole.

Can Pasta Salad be Frozen? Pasta salad is best eaten fresh. Fresh veggies and pasta can often become mushy when frozen and defrosted.

More Delicious Pasta Salads

Pesto Pasta Salad

This refreshing pasta salad is the perfect combination of mozzarella, tomatoes and olives!

  • 8 oz tortiglioni or rotini pasta (cooked and cooled)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 cup small mozzarella balls
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (pitted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  1. Mix pesto, mayonnaise and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
  2. Combine pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and olives in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Chop fresh basil and sprinkle on top just before serving

 

REPIN this Fresh Salad

Pasta salad in a small white bowl, showing cherry tomatoes, olives and mozzarella balls

This pesto pasta salad recipes is a fresh favorite! It is loaded with pasta, tomatoes, olives and mozzarella balls and tossed in a tangy vinaigrette! #spendwithpennies #pestopastasalad #coldpastasalad #sidedish #capresepastasalad
This pesto pasta salad recipes is a fresh favorite! It is loaded with pasta, tomatoes, olives and mozzarella balls and tossed in a tangy vinaigrette! #spendwithpennies #pestopastasalad #coldpastasalad #sidedish #capresepastasalad

Ramen Noodle Salad

cabbage and ramen noodle salad

Ramen Noodle Salad is a potluck favorite! This easy salad is a delicious version of a traditional Coleslaw Recipe with crisp cabbage, bean sprouts, shredded carrots and ramen noodles are tossed together in a simple sweet Asian vinaigrette! Top with sunflower seeds or toasted almonds for a delicious nutty crunch!

This easy recipe is perfect taken to any potluck dish or served alongside BBQ Chicken or Asian Beef Skewers!

Ramen Noodle Salad with cabbage and carrot slices

To Make Ramen Noodle Salad

Ramen Noodle Salad has been a potluck staple for as long as I can remember!  It’s an easy (and inexpensive) coleslaw to put together and absolutely everyone loves it!

While it may surprise you, the ramen is added to this salad uncooked.  Once it is dressed it does sit in the fridge for a bit and the noodles soften up creating the perfect texture.  You can use any flavor of noodles you like (chicken or beef are my favorites) but make sure you don’t throw away those seasoning packets, they are added to the dressing.

ramen noodle salad in wooden bowl with wooden spoons

Loaded With Fresh Veggies

We eat a ton of cabbage in our household (since a couple of our go to dishes are Cabbage Roll Soup or Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole).  Of course, this Ramen Noodle Salad is another reason to have a fridge full of cabbage!

I love the crunch fresh cabbage gives this recipe and I most often use a mandolin slicer to chop it quickly.  Using a mandolin, shreds the cabbage thinly, slices the red peppers and even juliennes the carrots!

ramen noodle salad in wooden bowl

Variations for Ramen Noodle Salad

Cabbage:

  • Change green cabbage for your favorite Chinese cabbage or even bok choy.
  • Skip the shredding and use a couple of packages of coleslaw mix or even make ramen salad with broccoli slaw.
  • Make sure you have about 10 cups of shredded mixture.
  • If using the packaged slaw mix, I usually add in some extra carrots.

Vegetables:

  • While I use bell peppers and bean sprouts, you can add in other veggies too such as canned baby corn, broccoli florets, mushrooms or even water chestnuts for some crunch.

Dressing:

  • Sesame oil packs big flavor (and we add it to stir fries, Asian noodles or dips)!

This Ramen Cabbage Salad is the perfect make ahead dish and will be the first thing gone from your potluck table!

More Potluck Favorites

Ramen Noodle Salad

Ramen Noodle Salad is a potluck favorite! Crisp cabbage, bean sprouts, shredded carrots and ramen noodles.

  • 6 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 3 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 3 cups julienned carrots
  • 3 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 red pepper thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions (sliced)
  • 2 packages ramen noodles (seasonings reserved for dressing)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • seasoning from ramen packages
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. In a large bowl, add green & purple cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, red pepper & green onions. Break up the ramen noodles and add them (uncooked) to the cabbage mixture.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour over ramen mixture and toss to combine. Top with sesame seeds and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

I use chicken flavored ramen noodles, but you can use any flavor you like.

More Recipes You’ll Love

Oriental Ramen Noodle Salad! Crunchy cabbage & tons of yummy veggies with ramen noodles tossed in a quick sesame dressing. This is easy to make & a great summer side and perfect for bbqs! You can use coleslaw mix to make it extra quick!
Oriental Ramen Noodle Salad! Crunchy cabbage & tons of yummy veggies with ramen noodles tossed in a quick sesame dressing. This is easy to make & a great summer side and perfect for bbqs! You can use coleslaw mix to make it extra quick!

Easy Spaghetti Pie {family favorite}

Spaghetti pie is the perfect dish for a kid friendly weeknight dinner or to serve to a group of hungry guests. This spaghetti pie recipe pulls together all of the best aspects of a comforting Italian classic – pasta – cheese, a zesty meat sauce, and more cheese! 

Serve with a green salad tossed with Italian vinaigrette dressing and a loaf of warm garlic bread. After all, when it comes to spaghetti pie, it’s all about no fuss basics!

A slice of spaghetti pie topped with cheese on a plate

Spaghetti Pie Ingredient Prep

Spaghetti pie is exactly what it sounds like. A crust of spaghetti & cheese topped with our favorite Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and more cheese. The whole thing is baked until bubbly and then sliced and served like a pie.

What’s in Spaghetti Pie? Spaghetti pie casserole is layered and the flavors remind me of lasagna (but I think it’s easier to prepare).

  • Crust
    • The “crust” is made of noodles mixed with eggs and cheese.
    • The eggs bind everything together so that you can easily cut your baked spaghetti pie into wedges.
    • We use spaghetti but any long pasta will work in this recipe.
  • Sauce
    • This recipe uses a version of my favorite pasta sauce recipe.
    • Simmer the sauce to make sure it’s thickened.
    • Feel free to add in veggies like diced peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.
  • Cheeses
    • A ricotta layer makes this recipe creamy. Add in your favorite herbs to this layer.
    • You can use cottage cheese in place of ricotta. Cottage cheese has a bit more liquid so you may like to drain it a little bit.
    • If you’re in a pinch, this recipe can be made without the ricotta layer.

Ingredients for spaghetti pie ready to prepare including pasta, cheeses and meat sauce in bowls

How to Make Spaghetti Pie

What I love best about this spaghetti pie recipe is that it’s a terrific make-in-advance dinner that can be ready at a moment’s notice. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days unbaked.

  1. Cook the spaghetti noodles al dente (they’ll cook a bit more in the oven) and toss with eggs and cheese. Press into a deep dish pie pan.
  2. Brown beef and stir in pasta sauce (or marinara sauce) and tomatoes. Simmer to thicken.
  3. Layer ricotta and meat sauce over spaghetti noodles. Top with cheese and bake.

A baked spaghetti pie in a white pie plate

Leftover Spaghetti Pie

Leftovers can be refrigerated about 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until hot (time will vary based on portion sizes).

Leftovers can also be frozen in single portions for lunches. Defrost overnight in the fridge and microwave until heated through.

To Prepare Ahead of Time: Spaghetti pie is practically tailor made as make-in-advance meal for the freezer. Just prepare it as described here, but don’t bake. Instead, pop it in the freezer. When it’s frozen, take it out of the dish and transfer to a large, plastic baggie. Or, freeze it in a disposable foil pan to make clean up and gifting easier.

It can go straight from the freezer to the oven. Add an extra 30-45 minutes to the baking time. Cheesy and delicious, spaghetti pie is always welcome at the table!

A slice of spaghetti pie being served from a pie plate

More Spaghetti Favorites

Spaghetti Pie

This spaghetti pie recipe pulls together all of the best aspects of this Italian classic – pasta – cheese, meat sauce, and more cheese! 

  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

Spaghetti Crust

  • 6 oz spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs

Cheese Layer

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

Meat Sauce

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 small onion (diced)
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 2 cups pasta sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook spaghetti and drain. Toss with butter. Stir in eggs and parmesan cheese.
  3. Place spaghetti in a greased deep dish pie plate. Press to form a crust.
  4. Combine ricotta cheese, parsley and basil. Spread mixture over spaghetti.

  5. Brown beef and onion until no pink remains. Drain any fat. Add tomatoes and pasta sauce. Simmer 10 minutes or until thickened. Spread over ricotta cheese.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes. Top with mozzarella and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

REPIN this Easy Recipe

A slice of Spaghetti Pie on a small white plate

We love making this easy homemade spaghetti pie recipe for potlucks or weeknights. It's made in the oven with meat sauce, ricotta, and other delicious ingredients then baked to perfection! #spendwithpennies #spaghettipie #spaghetti #bakedspaghetti #spaghettipierecipe #italianspaghettipie #italian #pasta
We love making this easy homemade spaghetti pie recipe for potlucks or weeknights. It's made in the oven with meat sauce, ricotta, and other delicious ingredients then baked to perfection! #spendwithpennies #spaghettipie #spaghetti #bakedspaghetti #spaghettipierecipe #italianspaghettipie #italian #pasta