Graduation Party Pasta Salad

With June almost here, that means that soon our local high schools in the Adirondacks will be graduating their senior classes. Along with the excitement of getting that diploma come plenty of graduation parties to attend. If you’re planning a graduation party this summer, you might be considering making most of the food yourself – and sometimes knowing how much to prepare can be quite a task, especially when it comes to foods like salads.

We’re offering this great recipe for pasta salad for a crowd that takes the guesswork out of how much pasta, dressing, and filler ingredients you need. Of course, everything you need for your party pasta salad – as well as all the other food, drinks and supplies – can be found right at Charlie Johns. From hamburgers and hot dogs right down to the plastic forks, and even the gift for the special graduate, you’ll find everything you need at Charlie Johns to make your graduate’s send-off a success.

Grad Party Pasta Salad


  • 3 lb. 8 oz. tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1 ½ – 1 ¾ quarts Italian dressing*
  • 1 lb. 8 oz. to 2 lbs. selected meats, veggies, relishes and cheeses*


Cook the pasta according to package directions. If you don’t have a large pot, you may need to cook it in batches. You will need 3 ½ gallons of water, salted to taste, if you are preparing the pasta altogether. Follow package directions for al dente pasta. This is important because the pasta will soak up some of the dressing, so if it’s overcooked, you’ll have mushy salad. When pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside while you’re preparing your other ingredients.

Next, choose and prepare your selected meats, veggies, and cheeses from the following list. Balance about 50 percent vegetables and relishes, 25 percent meats and 25 percent cheeses.

  • Raw vegetables: broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, chives, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes, and tomatoes
  • Relishes: chopped pickles, olives (any variety), chopped sweet roasted peppers, and capers
  • Cheeses: mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby, cheddar, and feta
  • Meats: cubed ham, cubed salami, and pepperoni

Place pasta in desired container. Add dressing and toss gently to mix. Fold in other ingredients. Chill.

*Note: It is not recommended that you use mayonnaise-based dressings or poultry ingredients due to salmonella concerns. Seafood is also not recommended, as it is a common allergen. If you know none of your guests have seafood allergies, crabmeat or shrimp can be a nice additive.

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