RECIPE: Christmas In July Pasta Salad

The benefits of summer are, in my opinion, endless. Warm sunshine makes for countless outdoor activities and one of my favorites is a summer barbecue. The recipe I’m about to share with you is my absolute favorite dish to bring along to any gathering for a few reasons: 1) It’s super easy to make 2) It’s of the lower calorie persuasion in comparison to other typical barbecue fare 3) It’s insanely delicious and always a crowd pleaser! I nicknamed it “Christmas in July” Pasta Salad because the veggies give the dish festive flecks of red and green and, most importantly, it is a true gift to your taste buds.

The best kinds of recipes are not only tasty but do not require a lengthy grocery store trip–and this recipe fits both criteria! Before moving onto the details, I should note that as with most pasta salad dishes, this tastes the best after sitting overnight. The original recipe calls for the finished product to sit in the fridge for one to two hours before serving, and that should do just fine if that’s all the time you have; but if you can assemble the night before I would highly recommend it.

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What you need:

  • 12 oz box whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • ½ cup sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Splenda granulated sweetener (or your favorite sweetener or sugar)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

What to do:

1) Cook the pasta according to its packaging. Once it’s done, set aside and let it cool down.
2) While the pasta is cooking–get chopping! This is the perfect time to dice up your peppers, green onion and celery.
3) Combine mayo, mustard, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, Splenda, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk it all together for about a minute.
4) Once your pasta has cooled down, combine it with your veggies (peppers, green onion, celery) in the bowl you plan on refrigerating it in. Add your dressing mixture to the bowl.
5) With a large spoon, or a clean pair of hands, mix up all the delicious ingredients. Make sure the dressing is evenly coating all the pasta.
6) Refrigerate for at least an hour, but like I previously mentioned–the longer, the better!

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For the calorie conscious, one serving of this “skinny” macaroni salad (which is 1/12th of the whole batch) is only 190 calories! You can also completely customize this dish to cater to your preferences or those of your guests–whether you add different veggies, give it some extra flavor (I usually use a generous 1/2 teaspoon of pepper instead of the recommended 1/4 teaspoon), or use regular sugar–mix it up any way you please!

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Your friends and family will definitely thank you for this pasta gift that keeps on giving.