Ham & Pea Pasta Salad; family reunions

I remember going to a family reunion in the 80’s…..

Family reunions were a summer staple when I was growing up. There would be my mother’s mother’s family reunion, my mother’s father’s family reunion, my father’s mother’s…… You get the idea. Regardless of which ‘side’ was holding the reunion, it was always held in a park, there were always lots and lots of kids, and lots and lots of food.

The food was always the same: potato salad, baked beans, fried chicken, watermelon and cookies, but it was always good and always plentiful.

But the particular family reunion in the 80’s I’m thinking of was the first one I attended as a fully-fledged adult.

In other words, I was expected to bring ‘a dish to pass’.

Being a bit of a renegade, I brought Italian Picnic Pasta Salad.

Now it’s as common as sliced bread, but at the time it was quite daring.

Macaroni salads were a summer staple, using Creamettes (elbow macaroni) of course, and ‘Salad Dressing’, aka Miracle Whip.

They were a bit bland.

This is my updated Macaroni Salad with a bit of zing and crunch added.

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Ham & Pea Pasta Salad

An updated version of traditional Macaroni Salad, loaded with ham & peas, of course, but also celery, carrots and peppers.
I love creamy pasta salads – made with lots of mayonnaise. My good sense tells me that it’s not the most healthy way to enjoy summer. Using a bit of Greek or plain yogurt stretches the mayonnaise while still keeping the flavor. 


  • Author: Katie Zeller
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta Salads
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 1/4 cups (4.2oz, 125gr) pasta, bite-size 
  • 8oz (240gr) ham, a thick slice from the deli, cut into bite-size pieces. 
  • 1 cup frozen peas (3oz, 90gr)
  • 1/2 bell pepper, red or orange, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, chopped
  • 23 ribs celery (about 1 cup, sliced)
  • 10 Greek or black olives, pitted, cut in half 
  • Creamy Dressing: 
  • 4 tbs Greek or plain yogurt
  • 2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs Dijon-style (or any) mustard
  • 2 tbs salad olive oil


  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Put frozen peas in a strainer and run hot tap water over them until they are thawed, about 1 minute. 
  • Mix all ingredients for salad (except dressing) in a large bowl. 
  • When the pasta is done, drain, rinse lightly in cool water. 
  • Add to bowl. 
  • Add as much of the dressing as suits your taste; Stir and eat. 
  • Creamy Dressing: 
  • Whisk all ingredients together. It will be quite thick.


If you cook the pasta ahead (in the cool morning) toss it with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking before assembling the salad.
Or just make the whole salad ahead….


  • Serving Size: 1/2 recipe
  • Calories: 875
  • Sugar: 10.9 g
  • Sodium: 1050.8 mg
  • Fat: 42.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 9.1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 68.1 g
  • Fiber: 9.6 g
  • Protein: 50 g
  • Cholesterol: 117 mg
Ham & Peas Pasta Salad

One other thing changed with our family reunions in the 80’s….

.All of us kids were young adults.

Instead of a Sunday afternoon in the park with everyone sitting around talking and gossiping, it became a weekend at a campground.

There might have been beer and wine coolers. Lots and lots of beer and wine coolers.

The older generation still came for Sunday afternoon, but the rest of us….. Ah, the good old days….

I pulled the last of the lettuce out yesterday. We had a good season, but even Romaine couldn’t stand up to day after day of hot weather.

It bolted.

I put as much as I could fit into our small fridge so we’ll manage one or two more lettuce salads, but it’s time to move on to pasta and grain salads.

I’m just thrilled that I can make them again.

Initially, after mon mari became a T1 diabetic, pasta really messed with his blood sugar control.

It doesn’t seem to anymore….. Neither does pizza.

We are not going to question it or worry about it.

We’re just going to appreciate our pasta salads this summer – and our pizzas when the kitchen cools off enough to turn the oven on.

BTW – the pool has been wonderful, especially after my 12.5 km walks on Thursday.

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4 thoughts on “Ham & Pea Pasta Salad; family reunions”

  1. We had a few family reunions that I remember as a kid. As I grew older though, there were fewer of them until finally, everyone just seemed to go their own way. After my parents passed, that was the last of family for me except of course, for my hubs and kids, but I think you get the idea.

    I love pasta salads. Unfortunately for me, my weight doesn’t so I don’t eat much anymore. But our local Big Box Store has started carrying Creamette again! I hadn’t seen it in forever. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of it, but I still like their pasta best. It’s what I grew up on after all 😉

    • A few years ago I gave up milk in my coffee….. Turns out I was consuming about 2 quarts a week in coffee and tea – I was astounded! Anyway, that allowed me to starting eating potatoes and pasta again. I was happy with the trade-off (although it took awhile to adjust to black coffee again)

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