Growing up, I hated mayo. I despised it. Which meant I spent the whole summer avoiding pasta salad (and potato salad and coleslaw). However, I’ve recently started letting mayo into my life.
I started small. A little aioli on a sandwich. A tiny bit of fry sauce for dipping.
But this summer I decided to go big. I tried macaroni salad. SALAD. WITH. MAYO.
… and I LOVED IT.
It took me 31 years, but I can finally say I’ve come around! But, of course, I wanted to try my hand at a healthier version.
My Smoky Pasta Salad has whole wheat gobbetti pasta, a heap of red peppers, green peppers and carrots, and a creamy dressing infused with smoked paprika that brings loads of flavor. I also added a pinch of Hot Luv seasoning for some heat.
This salad was so easy to make and came together super quickly. I chopped the veggies and made the dressing while the water boiled and the pasta cooked. I used my food processor to dice the carrots, but you can use a grater or a knife. Then all you need to do is mix and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
Another tip – try to let your pasta cool as much as possible before mixing the ingredients together. I ran mine under cold water and then threw it in the freezer for a few minutes to quickly cool down. If it’s too warm and you add the dressing, it will soak all the mayo up and leave it a bit dry.
Speaking of the dressing, I still prefer a lighter-dressed salad. My version is creamy and flavorful but it is pretty light on the dressing. If you want a heavier dressing, double the recipe and add to your liking.
With the weekend almost here and a few weeks of summer left, kick your BBQ game into high gear. Bring this smokey pasta salad to your next get together!
- ½ lbs. whole wheat gobbetti pasta (or any shape you like)
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- 1 large carrot, grated
- ½ cup mayonnaise (or vegan mayo!)
- ½ - 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1.5 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- ⅔ tsp. organic sugar
- ⅔ tsp. smoked paprika + more for sprinkling on top
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- Pinch of salt
- Small splash of milk (about 1 tablespoon)
- Optional: Cayenne or Hot Luv seasoning
- Cook pasta according to directions on package. Chill in fridge while preparing other ingredients.
- In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt and cayenne or Hot Luv in a bowl. Add milk to thin dressing just enough to be pourable. Taste and add more seasoning as you like.
- In a large bowl, mix pasta, peppers, carrot and mix dressing until everything is incorporated evenly.
- Chill for 2-3 hours.
- Sprinkle more paprika and pepper on top, to taste, before serving.