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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

The possibilities are endless this summer with pasta salad

pasta salad in a bowl

Pasta salad is the quintessential dish of the summer. This cold side dish makes it’s appearance at every cookout, picnic and potluck. It’s hard to pick a favorite pasta salad, when there are so many variations to choose from. There’s the antipasto salad, BLT pasta salad, caprese pasta salad, Greek pasta salad and of course, the classic pasta salad. The list could go on and on. 

Pasta salads are a great way to incorporate vegetables and whole grains into the diet. Using whole grain pasta rather than a white pasta will provide more fiber, vitamins and minerals. Vary your veggies and therefore, nutrient intake, with cherry tomatoes, carrots, squash, broccoli, onion, bell pepper, asparagus and more. A vinaigrette dressing made with oil and vinegar offers a healthy dose of good fats. However, if a creamy white dressing is what you prefer, consider swapping plain non-fat Greek yogurt for all or half the mayonnaise, lowering the fat while boosting the protein and providing probiotics.

Pasta salad needs time to allow the flavors to develop so make it several hours ahead of time, or even overnight. Store it in an air-tight container to keep it from drying out and place in the refrigerator. Use it within three to five days. Pasta salad won’t freeze well, so have a party and pass the pasta salad dish around!

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

16 oz. whole grain rotini pasta

½ Tablespoon oil

3 cups frozen corn

1 small red onion, diced

1 large jalapeno pepper, chopped

½ cup cilantro, chopped


1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

½ cup light mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice from one lime

2 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting the salt, but add corn in with the pasta for the last minute of boiling. Drain and toss with oil to help prevent the pasta from sticking and drying out. In a large bowl, combine onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro and corn/pasta. In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients for the dressing. Toss with about two-thirds of the dressing, saving the rest to refresh any leftover pasta salad. Chill dressing and pasta salad in the refrigerator for at least one hour prior to serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

Yield: 10 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 250 calories, 6 grams fat, 220 milligrams sodium, 42 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 11 grams protein


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.