Potluck Pasta Salad


Yes, I did it. I just survived a brutal potluck season. It wasn’t brutal when I was eating delicious food that other people had cooked up and put out on the plastic folding table. It was brutal when it was an hour until the potluck started, and I was faced with showing up with three hungry triplets and no contribution.

I get asked a lot of questions about how I survived the early days of raising triplets. People want to know how they were all fed and changed, how we were able to sleep, whether the babies slept in the same room, and how we were able to go places (easy answer there: we didn’t.)

It’s not the big things, like taking care of three babies’ basic needs, that will kill you, though. It’s the potlucks. It’s the gift exchanges. It’s not having enough D batteries in the house to power the third baby swing.

Necessity might be the mother of invention, but the mother of triplets can invent lots of things, too. Here’s where my potluck pasta salad enters the scene. It’s one of those recipes that isn’t really a true recipe: it evolves based on what’s around in the house. I made it three times over the holidays. By the third time, the kids were no longer asking, “what are you bringing?” but instead were asking, “do you have the pasta salad?” It’s basic, but it’s very good, and almost nobody has a problem with eating pasta salad. (As long as it doesn’t have blue cheese or tuna fish in it. Then you might get some picky eaters passing it by, but my salad has neither.) Here’s my life-saving potluck pasta salad.

makes 10 servings

1 pound dried pasta (corkscrews or penne work best) cooked slightly firmer than al dente

1 diced green or red bell pepper

1 cup steamed broccoli

½ cup sliced carrot

½ cup sliced green onion

½ cup sliced black olives

½ cup crumbled feta cheese or ½ cup cubed cheese of your choice, such as cheddar


½ cup olive oil mixed with 2 tablespoons white vinegar,  2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper

I often change this recipe based on what I have on hand. I substitute the cheddar cheese for the feta, for instance. Sometimes I substitute fresh lemon juice for the vinegar in the dressing. If I don’t have a green onion on hand, I dice a ½ cup of red or yellow onion. Cherry tomatoes can be used instead of a bell pepper, or in addition to a bell pepper. For those who want to add meat, a cup of diced chicken could be used by simply using the pre-cooked chicken strips in the deli section and slicing them into smaller pieces. And for those really in a hurry, bottled Italian salad dressing could be used in place of homemade dressing.

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