5 Pasta Salads You Won't Regret

When it comes to pasta salad, everyone has a go-to recipe. But these healthier versions are worth a look.
By: Emily Lee

American Macaroni Salad: Food Network Kitchens

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Pasta salad is just as emblematic of the American cookout tradition as a juicy cheeseburger, whether you prefer yours with bow ties or macaroni, diced celery or bell pepper, or creamy mayonnaise or zesty vinaigrette. But what you might consider a modest serving could very well pack enough sugar and fat to knock you into a dreaded food coma for the rest of the day. If you’re eager to indulge in this classic summer side dish a whole lot more now that barbecue season is upon us, consider trying new ways to lighten up your go-to recipe. Reducing the mayo and cutting the sugar in the dressing — and loading up on wholesome, in-season vegetables — are excellent places to start.

Food Network Kitchen’s lighter take on macaroni salad has all the creaminess that’s expected, even though the recipe requires just half a cup of mayo. A little bit of sour cream is also mixed in, adding a tangy element — along with the cider vinegar — to this typically mild dish.

OrzoSalad1.tif

OrzoSalad1.tif

Food stylist: Anne Disrude Prop Stylist: Meghan Guthrie

Usher in another season of sweet summer squash with Claire Robinson's healthy orzo salad. Toss the tender cooked pasta with salty feta crumbles and cubes of golden, caramelized squash for a low-fat side dish that's ready in just 30 minutes.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Radicchio's firm burgundy leaves double as a pasta salad mix-in and a stunning serving bowl in Rachael Ray’s easy side dish recipe. Toss the cooked orecchiette with a sweet and tangy orange vinaigrette to balance the radicchio’s slightly bitter taste.

Store-bought salad dressings are often loaded with sugar and sodium; skip the bottled stuff and dress your picnic salad with Food Network Kitchen's garlicky ranch dressing instead.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tender bow tie pasta meets shredded rotisserie chicken, diced tomatoes and bell peppers in this crowd-pleasing cookout side. Don’t forget to dress the salad with Dijon vinaigrette, as the dressing adds a tangy kick for few extra calories.

For more, check out these pasta salad recipes from our friends:
Homemade Delish: Spring Orzo Salad

Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Chicken Pasta Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing

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