Easy Creamy Pasta Salad

  • Servings : 10
  • Prep Time : 15m
  • Cook Time : 15m
  • Ready In : 3:00 h
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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.

  • Calories

  • Calories from Fat

  • Total Fat

  • Saturated Fat

  • Trans Fat

  • Cholesterol

  • Sodium

  • Carbohydrates

  • Dietary Fiber

  • Sugar

  • Added Sugar

  • Protein

  • Serving Size:

    3/4 cup (105 g)

While shopping at a supermarket, I passed a display of boxed pasta salad by a major U.S. food manufacturer. It was called Creamy Italian even though I had never seen anything like served in Italy.

The boxed pasta salad was not even complete. You had to add mayonnaise. Although boxed salad and entrees are convenient, they are seldom healthier than homemade. Like most processed foods, it had preservatives and other ingredients not available to home cooks. And the meager 3/4 cup serving size had a whopping 350 calories! For one needing about 700 calories a meal, getting 350 calories form a pasta salad is not a healthy diet.

Having a box of dried mini penne pasta like the boxed version, I set out to see if I could improve on it. This Easy Creamy Pasta Salad recipe is the result. Using low fat mayonnaise that has about half the calories of full fat mayo, and 8 oz. (225 g) of peas and carrots, my version came in at 175 calories per 3/4 cup (105g serving). If you substitute full fat mayonnaise for reduced fat you are looking at 225 calories a serving verses 350 calories for the boxed version. Why the big difference?

As I have said before, convenience comes at a price. Corporations are in business to make a profit. The simplest way to make a profit is by using low cost ingredients. Plain white pasta costs less than vegetables (peas, carrots, bell pepper). Salt is also cheap.

In the boxed version, you get more salt than carrots, and more sugar than bell pepper and peas. In addition to the added sugar, there is one or more genetically modified ingredients. The most likely GMO ingredient is the soybean oil. My Creamy Pasta Salad recipe has only 225 mg of sodium per serving (boxed about 500 mg) and no GMO ingredients.

Optional Ingredients

Add to taste


Red pepper flakes

Diced dried onion

Dried or fresh parsley

Dried or fresh chives


  • 8 oz. (225 g) mini penne pasta
  • 8 oz. (225 g) fresh or frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) diced bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 cup (200 g) reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) grated Romano Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) ground black pepper or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) buttermilk powder (optional)

Method of Preparation

Step 1

In a 3 qt/L pan, bring about 3 qt/L of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook about 2 to 3 minutes. Add peas and carrots and cook until pasta is al dente or a minute or two longer. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain.

Step 2

While water is coming to a boil, prepare remaining ingredients for the dressing, place in a large bowl, and stir until uniform. Set aside until pasta is cooked.

Step 3

Add the drained pasta, peas, and carrots to the mayonnaise mixture and stir using a large spoon until the pasta and vegetables are coated with the dressing. Serve immediately or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

Step 4

If desired when serving cold pasta salad, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of milk for a creamier coating.