Rediscovering Pasta Salad

Recently, I began working at a locally-owned bakery and cafe that offers a lovely pasta salad each day.

I never gave much thought or consideration to pasta salad, until now. One lunch break, I tried one bite of a Southwestern-themed salad laced and was hooked. My favorite pasta salads are laden with creamy mayonnaise or salad dressing. I don’t mind indulging in them on occasion, but wanted to make a lighter version at home.

There’s not really a recipe for my pasta salad. I kept the Southwestern theme and tipped the salad’s balance in favor of fresh vegetables and black beans. However, I did coat the ingredients with a thin layer of mayonnaise (regular Hellman’s for me), lightened with a spritz of lemon juice. For a healthier version, you could try substituting thick Greek yogurt or combine it with your favorite mayo. Fresh herbs would also make a lovely addition.

This salad held up well for much of a busy work week and, four days later, the vegetables retained their crisp. We were happy to have an easy snack or light meal to grab on the run.

 Confetti Pasta Salad

Small pasta shells, or other small pasta variety
Fresh bell peppers, diced
Celery, diced
Red onion, diced
Green onion, thinly sliced.
Black beans, or whatever’s in your pantry
Mayonnaise, just enough to hold the salad together
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt (I prefer flaky sea salt). You could also use your favorite seasoned salt.
Black pepper
Pinch of sugar
Shredded cheese


  1. Cook pasta until al dente in boiling water seasoned with salt and a little olive oil.
  2. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside to continue to drain, shaking off the extra water a few times.
  3. Chop plenty of bell peppers, onions and green onion. I like a lot.
  4. Drain a can of your favorite beans and rinse off the canned liquid.
  5. Combine the pasta with the chopped vegetables and as many beans as you’d like. I tipped the balance of the pasta salad in favor of the vegetables and beans.
  6. Add just enough mayonnaise to hold the salad together.
  7. Season with lemon juice, salt, lots of pepper, and a pinch of sugar to balance the salty and sour.
  8. Toss in a scarce scattering of shredded cheese.

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