Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta Salad

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

This Creamy Bow Tie Pasta Salad recipe is everything you want in a summer side dish! Tender pasta is tossed with a creamy homemade dressing, then mixed with ham, cheese, peas, onions, and bell peppers. The pops of color – and flavor – are hard to resist! Perfect for potlucks, BBQs and family picnics.

Looking for more potluck ideas? Try: Loaded Broccoli Salad | White Cheddar Mac and Cheese | Dill Pickle Pasta Salad

close up of the Bowtie Pasta Salad Recipe

An Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Pasta salad is always on the menu for any summer gathering. It’s such a perfect side dish to add to a meal of grilled chicken, burgers, brats, fried chicken, and more. This Bow Tie Pasta Salad Recipe is so good, you’ll be finding every reason to make it all year long! The bow ties look so pretty and hold up well with the dressing and other ingredients. This is one of those recipes everyone will be asking you to send to them.

ingredients to make Bowtie Pasta Salad Recipe

What You’ll Need

Here’s what you’ll need to make the Bow Tie Pasta Salad Recipe (the exact measurements and full recipe instructions are below in the printable recipe card):

For the pasta:

  • Bow tie pasta
  • Cheddar cheese – I used a block of cheddar and cut it into small cubes.
  • Ham – leftover ham would work very well, or you can use thick sliced deli ham. I used ham steaks from the meat section of the grocery store and they were great for this recipe.
  • Onion – you can use a white onion or a sweet onion, whichever you prefer.
  • Frozen peas
  • Red bell pepper

Dressing:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Relish – you can choose to use either sweet relish or dill pickle relish, depending on your taste and what you have on hand.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Vinegar – either white vinegar or apple cider will be perfect.
  • Salt
  • Pepper

What is bow tie pasta really called?

Bow tie pasta is really called “farfalle” pasta, which means “butterflies” in Italian. In the states, it is called “bow-tie” pasta because it also looks like a bow tie! This pasta is made by cutting fresh pasta into rectangles with ruffle edges, then pinching the centers together.

Bowtie Pasta Salad Recipe

How to Make Bow Tie Pasta Salad

First, boil the pasta according to the package directions, just until al dente. Be sure you don’t over-cook the pasta or it will fall apart and not hold up well to the other ingredients in the salad.

Rinse the pasta. When the pasta is cooked, drain it in the colander and then rinse well with cold water. This stops the cooking, chills the pasta fast, and prevents it from sticking together.

Make the dressing. While the pasta is cooking, you can whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dressing until you’re ready to add it to the salad.

Mix everything together. In a large mixing bowl, toss together all of the ingredients for the salad with the dressing.

Chill. Cover the bowl and chill the salad in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Variation Ideas

Here are some variations on this salad that you might enjoy:

  • Purple onion – Purple onion would be delicious in this salad.
  • Bacon – Instead of ham, use crumbled crisp bacon.
  • Different pasta shapes – There are other types of pasta that would work well in this salad if you don’t have bow tie pasta on hand. Farfalle, rotini, and penne would all be good options.

Also, many of the ingredients in the salad can be left out or changed to suit your tastes. Don’t like peas? Just leave them out. Prefer sweet relish over dill pickle relish? That’s fine! Use what you like.

Tips for Success

Pasta salad is super easy to make, but there are a few simple tricks I recommend:

  • Mix-ins should be about the same size. When you are cutting up the ham, cheese, peppers or whatever else you are adding to the salad, try to cut them to about the same size. I prefer smaller sized mix-ins because then it’s easier to get a bite of everything together in one go!
  • Don’t skip rinsing the pasta. The noodles need to cool a bit before being tossed with the dressing and other mix-ins. If you wait around for it to cool on its own the pasta can stick together, so running it under cold water after it has finished cooking is a good workaround.
  • Let it chill. Let the pasta salad rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving it. This gives the flavors time to really mesh together and allows the noodles to absorb some of the flavors from the dressing.
scooping out a serving of Bowtie Pasta Salad Recipe

How to Store Leftovers

Keep the leftover pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Be sure to give it a good stir before serving as the dressing tends to settle at the bottom of the bowl.

More Recipes to Try

Bow Tie Pasta Salad Recipe

Published By Jill
This Creamy Bow Tie Pasta Salad recipe is everything you want in a summer side dish! Tender pasta is tossed with a creamy homemade dressing, then mixed with ham, cheese, peas, onions, and bell peppers. The pops of color – and flavor – are hard to resist!
5 from 58 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 414 kcal

Ingredients
  

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons relish (sweet or dill)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Salad

  • 1 pound bow tie pasta
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese diced
  • 1 cup fully-cooked ham diced
  • 1/2 small white or sweet onion peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas thawed
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper seeded and finely diced

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Cover and refrigerate while you move on to the next steps.
  • Boil the pasta according to the package directions, just until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together all of the ingredients with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 414kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 15gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 541mgPotassium: 207mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 666IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 222mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenfunwithmy3sons or tag #kitchenfunwithmy3sons!
about me

ABOUT JILL

I am a mom of 3 awesome boys that love to get crafty with me in the kitchen. Our blog is full of all sorts creative food ideas for the Holidays, Party Ideas, Free Printables, Featured DIY Ideas, Recipes, & Kids Craft Ideas! Read more...

Subscribe
Notify of
7 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Love what you’re doing.its great work, anyway I’ll love it if you’ll teach me this very delicacy.

Loaded pasta salad. A video clip would do

Love it5 stars

Very nice

Why can’t I print out this recipe?5 stars

Hi Linda, You will see a Print button inside the recipe box.

I’ve been looking at recipes all day for macaroni salad. I just don’t get adding sugar and vinegar. I sometimes make mine with tuna, green onion, celery, mayo and mustard. Sometimes I add ham and cheese and other things, depending on what the main course will be. Grilled burgers or steaks and ribs. I don’t ever add sugar to anything! I save the sweets at desert time.

SEEN ON

As seen on