Enjoy this hot or cold Pasta Salad with Ham and Pesto served in a beautiful glass Mason Jar. This classic appetizer or light dinner or lunch is the perfect thing to take on the go with you. Filled with flavors from your favorite Pesto, chunks of moist ham and perfectly cooked pasta, each bite is a bite of perfection.
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Why You’ll Love Pasta Salad with Ham and Pesto:
- Great meal to take on the go
- Only uses 4 simple ingredients
- Perfect light dinner or small appetizer
- Family friendly
- Great potluck dish to take to get togethers and parties
- Incredibly easy to make
- Super customizable
- Belly filling and satisfying
Ingredients Buying Guide (What You’ll Need)
- Prepackaged Pre-cooked Ham – You can use prepackaged or fresh ham too, or other variations listed below.
- Rotini Pasta – Use a fresh box or feel free to substitute for any of the options listed below.
- Pesto – Jarred pesto or your favorite homemade version (ours coming soon)
- Parmesan cheese – Feel free to use freshly shaved, shredded or grated.
- Mason Jar for serving – Depending on how you’re serving this, for potluck or family style serving, you may use a Wide Mouth or Regular Mouth 64 oz or 32 oz jar. If making individual servings, an 8 or 16 oz Regular Mouth Mason jar is appropriate.
64 oz Jars
- Includes 1 Metal Lid and 1 Metal Band Clear Glass
16 oz Jars
How To Make Pesto Ham and Pasta Salad
- Grab a box of your favorite rotini pasta and boil it according to the package instructions. As your pasta is cooking, dice your ham.
- Once finished cooking, strain and reserve about a half cup of the pasta water. You’ll use this later to help the pesto stick to the pasta.
- Add pesto and ham to hot pasta and serve in Mason Jars.
- You can also serve this cold and it will still taste amazing- making this a very versatile and perfect potluck appetizer dish.
- Top with parmesan cheese to your liking.
Pasta Salad with Pesto and Ham Variations:
- Change Pasta– Instead of the rotini pasta, try other pasta variations like linguini, spaghetti, angel hair, fettucini or whatever pasta you have on hand.
- Change Pesto- Instead of using jarred basil pesto, try a homemade pesto recipe, a red pesto recipe or whatever your favorite pesto recipe is.
- Trade Ham- This cold pesto pasta salad calls for prepackaged ham. Trade that out for fresh ham chunks, deli ham or even other meat choices. This is a perfect way to use leftover Easter or Christmas Ham or whatever you have on hand. You can even omit the ham to make this a vegetarian recipe.
- Add More Cheese- You can always add more parmesan cheese or change out the cheese for other varieties like romano or parmesan.
- Add Veggies- Pesto and Ham Pasta salad can include various other vegetables like peas, tomatoes, carrots or corn. You can spice up this recipe to include whatever you have or would like to add.
- Add Spices- When canning or making recipes in Mason Jars, we know you’ll have the best spice blends already in your pantry. So grab your favorite, give it a shake and try it out in this Ham Pesto Pasto Salad in a Jar.
- If making your own Pesto, trade out the traditional pine nuts for other nuts, like walnuts or almonds for another flavor variation.
What Pasta is Best for Pasta Salad?
It’s best to use a smaller pasta that has plenty of nooks and crannies to soak up the pasta salad pesto or sauce that you’re adding.
Small pasta shapes like rotini, fusilli, farfalle, rotini, and penne are perfect ideas to use in this recipe.
Do You Rinse Your Pasta for Pasta Salad?
No, it is not recommended to rinse your pasta after straining it for any pasta salad recipe. Rinsing pasta cools it and stop it from letting the pesto sauce adhere to your pasta.
It is also recommended to use a small amount of the water from your boiled pasta to help your pesto or other sauce stick better.
How Do You Make Your Ham Pesto Pasta Salad More Flavorful?
A lot of the flavor of this dish comes from your choice of pesto sauce. Feel free to sample a few different pesto sauces before you decide what to use for this dish.
If you just can’t find the right taste from a premade jarred sauce, make your own pesto. Or doctor up your jarred pesto with your own spices and herbs to get the flavoring that you’re looking for.
Some will say the longer you let your pasta soak in the pesto, the more flavor it will bring out.
How Do You Store Pasta Salad?
Can You Freeze Pesto Pasta Salad?
We don’t recommend freezing pasta salad once assembled.
Can You Make this Pasta Pesto and Ham Salad the Night Before?
You can absolutely make this recipe the night before. In fact, we recommend making it the night before (if you’re planning on serving cold pasta salad) or the day of when you plan on serving.
You know that saying “the best things are worth waiting for”? Well this potluck pesto pasta salad is one of them. If it gets to sit overnight, it really brings out the flavor of the pesto and ham.
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