Finally! A pasta salad you can feel good about serving and eating this summer. You won’t miss the mayo in this Creamy Southwest Vegetarian Pasta Salad!
Happy National Dairy Month! I’m so excited to be partnering with the American Dairy Association Mideast again this year to celebrate all things dairy and the farmers and cows who make it possible for us to have in so many delicious and healthy forms. Today I’ve made this awesome Creamy Southwest Vegetarian Pasta Salad that will be perfect for all those summer barbecues and picnics!
I don’t know about you guys, but I live for the summers here in Colorado. The days are long and for the most part sunny and the nights cool off enough to where eating dinner outside on the deck is one of our favorite things to do. On the nights where we eat outside, we’re usually grilling something. Of course you have to have a side dish to go with it and over here, we’re big fans of cold, creamy, pasta salads!
When I say creamy I’m not referring to using a ton of mayonnaise. Nope, not gonna do it! Instead I use plain non-fat or 2% Greek yogurt. It’s something I always have in the fridge (it’s my favorite after dinner snack) and it makes an awesome and healthy dressing for this Creamy Southwest Vegetarian Pasta Salad.
To give the Greek yogurt plenty of flavor I added a can of diced green chiles, cumin, chili powder, garlic and a little hot sauce for extra heat. Not only does the dressing coat the pasta and veggies in delicious creamy Southwest flavor, but it’s high in protein to help keep you full longer. Greek yogurt packs in dairy’s 9 essential nutrients and 6 ounces typically contains 14–17 grams of protein. Check this out to learn about the differences between regular and Greek yogurt.
Of course Greek yogurt and all of the other delicious dairy foods wouldn’t be possible without the hard working dairy farmers and their cows. In Ohio and West Virginia alone, dairy farm families raise more than 275,000 dairy cows on about 2,500 dairy farms. In an average year, these dairy cows produce approximately about 645 million gallons, of milk.
A couple years ago I visited several dairy farms in Ohio and let me tell you, these are some hard working men and women. One farm I particularly enjoyed visiting was the Indoe family farm in Lodi, Ohio. It’s a small farm, but it was here that I had my first hands on experience learning about the ins and outs of dairy farming. I even got to milk a cow in their milking parlor! Read more about my experience on the farms and grab a delicious recipe for a Baked Denver Omelet while you’re at it.
Let’s take advantage of June being National Dairy Month and celebrate all the hard work the dairy farmers do for us! I plan on celebrating with copious amounts of yogurt, ice cream and of course an extra serving of this Creamy Southwest Vegetarian Pasta Salad!
Creamy Southwest Vegetarian Pasta Salad
- 3/4 pound whole wheat bowtie pasta
- 1 orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed then minced
- 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 ounces diced green chiles, undrained
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
- Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and hot sauce to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water and set aside in a large serving bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Taste for seasoning and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prep all of the vegetables, add them to the pasta along with the beans and corn then stir together.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and add in the queso fresco and cilantro.
- Stir everything together until coated and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- For extra flavor try grilling the pepper, zucchini, jalapeño and corn.