Bacon, avocado, and cheese, YAS please! Take a seat, because I’ve got a lot to say about this easy pasta salad recipe.
BUT FIRST, let’s see how fast this pasta salad comes together:
Swap the lettuce for pasta and you have a perfect complete meal in no time. This still counts as a salad though, right?
Easy Pasta Salad Recipe
Reasons I love pasta salad:
1. It can be made ahead of time
2. The best way to use up leftover odds and ends from lunches
3. Pasta! Duh!
Salads like this are the type of food you bring to a potluck, picnic, or make on a hot summer day when you can’t even think of turning on the stove. They’re easy to assemble and can be made up to 2 days ahead of time for an easy lunch or dinner later in the week.
What to Put in Pasta Salad
Whatever veggies, cooked proteins, and salad toppings you enjoy are most likely perfect in a pasta salad. I often make this dish at the end of the week with leftovers like deli cuts, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and what’s left in the vegetable bin.
I prefer to use short pasta shapes like Rotini, Macaroni, or Penne, or since they hold up well when tossed with dressing but you can use whatever pasta you keep on hand. The results will still be delicious.
Other ingredients you can use to make pasta salad include:
- Chopped bell peppers
- Black olives
- Red Onion
- Chopped spinach
- Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Shrimp
- Homemade Broccoli Pesto
It’s okay to use any of your favorite ingredient combos and try new things. I like to think of it as a chance to eat all my favorite salad toppings but with pasta instead of lettuce. Sounds like a total dream come true and believe me, this Cobb Pasta Salad is!
What is Cobb Pasta Salad
While I’m a major fan of the Classic Cobb salad sometimes I need a little extra oomph! Pasta does the trick.
This salad is all the things I love like bacon, deli cuts, cheese, avocado, and tomatoes, tossed with homemade Ranch dressing. Plus, it’s a major success with the kids and their friends after playing outside or on a regular weeknight.
Is Pasta Salad Healthy?
This all depends on how you make it. Some pasta salads are heavy on the pasta, dressing, and toppings like bacon and cheese. I use each of these ingredients often and believe that they are a part of a well-balanced diet but as with anything, too much isn’t always a good thing.
How to Make Pasta Salad Healthier
Here are a few ways to make pasta salads like this healthier:
- Add more lean proteins, like grilled chicken, deli cuts, or hard-boiled eggs.
- Cut the amount of pasta in half with more fresh veggies or chopped Romain lettuce. You still get a good bite of pasta with more crunch from the lettuce and you know I’m all about the crunch!
- Use half the dressing or make a lighter version by swapping half the mayonnaise with plain Greek yogurt.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
If you like this pasta salad, then you’ll definitely want to try these out too:
Okay, technically that last one is not pasta but it’s a great source of carbohydrates and protein from the quinoa!
What your favorite pasta salad recipe?
Easy Cobb Pasta Salad Recipe
Everyone’s favorite Cobb salad gets recreated into an easy pasta salad recipe loaded with bacon, deli cuts, cheese, avocado, and tomatoes. It’s a refreshing and hearty main dish for lunch or dinner.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Lunch/Dinner
- Cuisine: Pasta
- 2 cups cooked macaroni
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- 4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
- 4 slices ham, sliced into 1-inch squares
- 4 slices turkey, sliced into 1-inch squares
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
- Ranch dressing, (recipe below)
- In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, grape tomatoes, bacon, ham, turkey, egg, and cheese. Add the ranch dressing and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 556
- Sugar: 5.5g
- Sodium: 907.4mg
- Fat: 40.3g
- Saturated Fat: 11g
- Trans Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 28.2g
- Fiber: 7.4g
- Protein: 21.1g
- Cholesterol: 152.3mg
Homemade Ranch Dressing
- Prep Time: 3 minutes
- Total Time: 3 minutes
- Yield: about 3/4 cup 1x
- Cuisine: Dressings/Dips
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- In a lidded jar, combine the mayonnaise, milk, parsley, dill, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Cover with lid, seal, and shake to combine. Refrigerate and use for up to a week.
- Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
- Calories: 134
- Sugar: 0.6g
- Sodium: 219.1mg
- Fat: 14.1g
- Saturated Fat: 2.3g
- Carbohydrates: 1.2g
- Fiber: 0.1g
- Protein: 0.7g
- Cholesterol: 8.7mh