One thing’s for sure: It’s rare I meet a pasta salad I don’t like. I may not have loved them all, but I do seem to have a high tolerance of acceptability for even the most marginalized salad bar pasta salad-types.
But that’s the main reason I choose to make my own pasta salads at home. They’re fresher, they taste better, and I can add a twist of healthy and still reap all the flavor and even the creamy factor I crave with this one in the fridge that’s ready to eat any time of the day.
How to Make a Creamy Pasta Salad That’s Healthier Too
Pasta and macaroni salads made with traditional creamy dressings are fine for my occasional potluck splurges. But when I’m looking for a creamy pasta salad I can jot down in my Nourished Planner for my weekly meal prep or share with friends who are more health-conscious about the foods they eat, this creamy sauced mash-up of almond milk and avocado totally does all the right stuff.
Just like I do for the rest of my menu planning, adding more colors of the rainbow to my pasta salad is a simple way to make it more nourishing too. Plus, it just makes it so dang pretty too!
The Best Vegetables for Roasting
For this veggie pasta salad, I chose veggies that hold their shape even after being roasted and tossed about with pasta. They’re loaded with phytonutrients and vitamins that adds a peace of mind to my plate too.
To roast your vegetables, cut them into similarly-sized pieces so they roast evenly. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, some kosher salt and black pepper and roast in a 425°F oven until tender, about 10-15 minutes. I always use a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to make clean-up a breeze.
My recipe calls for 4 cups of raw vegetables for roasting, with halved cherry tomatoes making up 1 of the 4 cups of veggies. Use any combination of your favorite vegetables, but I find these roast up especially well:
- Yellow squash
- Bell peppers of any color (I especially like the sweeter red bell peppers)
- Red or yellow onion—I think red is often prettier
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
How to Make a Healthier, Creamy Pasta Salad Sauce
To make this pasta salad dressing creamy in a healthier way, I used an ingredient mash up of avocados, pesto, and Almond Breeze almondmilk Original. Using avocado whizzed in the blender with the almond milk (that has only 2.5 grams of fat and 60 calories per cup of almondmilk) lightens up this creamy dressing minus mayo or sour cream, saving fat and calories in every spoonful.
Using almond milk in the sauce is also an easy solution since it’s both shelf stable and refrigerator ready so it’s easy to have on hand.
The sauce is flavored with one of my favorite short cut flavor-builders—my homemade pesto. It gives all the herby flavor straight from the jar. I typically have it prepared in the fridge all summer long. Don’t forget a squeeze of lemon to add a bit of brightness.
Toss it all with Kalamata olives for pucker, pistachios or pine nuts for crunch, and more fresh basil leaves and a bit of Parmesan to keep the flavors going and this creamy pasta salad is ready for sharing.