3 Healthy Pasta Salad Variations For Summer

Sunrise Senior Living  |  August 31, 2015

Right next to the hamburgers and corn at every barbecue is a big bowl of pasta salad. This classic summer dish is a favorite of many people because it sounds healthy and tastes delicious. However, if the "salad" is heavy on pasta, light on veggies and dosed in dressing, it might not be the most nutritious dish at the buffet. But that doesn't mean you have to go without! Use one of these three pasta salad variations to sneak more nutrients into your summer diet.

1. Garden Pasta Salad
Instead of simply throwing some celery and carrots into your pasta, why not include a host of garden-fresh vegetables?


  • 1 box whole-wheat rotini, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a serving bowl, toss together cooked pasta, tomatoes, peppers, carrot, celery and scallions.

For the dressing, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over the pasta salad and toss to coat.

2. Chicken Pasta Salad
If your senior nutrition plan calls for lots of protein and fiber, this pasta salad recipe is the one for you!


  • 2 cups elbow pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Combine cooked pasta, chicken breast, pepper, squash, carrot, corn and black beans in a serving bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk well. Pour the mixture over the pasta salad and toss to coat.

3. Farfalle with Walnuts and Arugula
Want to use bow-tie pasta for your dish? Try this recipe with farfalle, walnuts and arugula.


  • 2 cups farfalle pasta, cooked and drained
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup evaporated fat-free milk

Mix together the pasta, arugula, tomatoes and scallions in a serving bowl.

To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in the walnuts and garlic. Cook for 1 minute, and then stir in the flour and evaporated milk. Continue to stir the mixture until it is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat.

Allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes before tossing with pasta salad.