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How to make perfect pasta salad

By Carolyn Malcoun, May 16, 2011 - 11:19am

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My go-to side dish to bring along wherever I’m invited—pasta salad—is simple to make and easy to tote. It seems to have been invented for summer picnics, potlucks and backyard barbecues!

Recipes to Try: Our Best Pasta Salad and Potato Salad Recipes

But typical versions consist of white pasta drowning, often tastelessly, in a heavy mayonnaise dressing. Luckily, it’s easy to make a light and creamy pasta salad with a lot less fat that’s still super-yummy!

Here are 4 of my simple tips to help you make your favorite pasta-salad recipes healthier.

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  1. Replace regular white pasta with whole-wheat pasta to add fiber—you’ll more than double the fiber per cup of pasta.
  2. Use a combination of low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat plain yogurt and olive oil instead of regular mayonnaise and you’ll cut calories and saturated fat.
  3. Double the veggies and use a variety of colorful ones. Some of my favorite pasta-salad veggies: shredded carrots, finely chopped broccoli and cauliflower, cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes and diced bell pepper.
  4. Add fresh herbs! They boost flavor without fat or sodium. Fragrant basil is always a hit, or try tarragon, dill or cilantro.

EatingWell’s Garden Pasta Salad incorporates all these healthy tricks. One pasta salad recipe that’s, dare I say it?, more delicious than most of the pasta salads I’ve eaten at potlucks. If you share it with friends, I bet you get asked for the recipe as often as I do!

More Recipes to Try:
Deviled Eggs, Three-Bean Salad and More of Your Favorite Summer BBQ Picnic Foods Made Healthier
Rich, Creamy Spinach Dip and More Potluck-Perfect Appetizer Recipes

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TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Healthy Cooking Blog, Dinner, Entertaining, Family meals, Recipe Makeover

Carolyn Malcoun
A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, young daughter and dog.

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