Looking for a change from mayonnaise-loaded pasta salads?  Then get ready to lighten up summertime pasta by swapping out half the noodles for plenty of veggies. Here’s a salad that is not only carb-conscious but also loaded with protein – a perfect combo!  What makes this meal even better is if you think of it sort of like a mix and match recipe. You get to choose what carbs and what type of protein (animal or plant-based) to use. In this particular recipe, I went with a Tex Mex Pasta Salad.  What a treat! Full of flavor and bursting with all sorts of important nutrients – calcium, protein, fiber, vitamins A and C, even valuable antioxidants.

Here’s how this recipe works: Below are different categories labeled as pasta, lean protein and bulky vegetables. You are in charge of assembling this recipe to accommodate what you like and prefer. Plan ahead and prep whatever protein, vegetables, and pasta or simply use what’s on hand in your fridge.


(1/2 cup cooked)

Whole-wheat pasta, any shape
Soba noodles
Chickpea pasta
Lentil pasta
Brown rice pasta
Quinoa pasta


(2-3 ounces)

Rotisserie chicken breast
Beans or chickpeas
Flank or skirt steak
Canned tuna
Tofu or tempeh


(1 cup)

Artichokes hearts
Bell peppers
Sugar snap peas

In my recipe (picture shown below), my pasta is whole wheat rotini, my lean protein is edamame, and my bulky vegetables are cherry tomatoes (halved), diced red onions, and diced red bell pepper.  To make all ingredients really pop and for that Tex Mex wonderful flavor, I added in Pepper Jack cheese and pepitos (pumpkin seeds). The sauce you see in the corner is Black bean salsa and corn added to plain Greek yogurt: In a small bowl, add 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt and 3 tablespoons of black bean and corn salsa.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Tex Mex Pasta Salad

Photo taken by Cheryl Mussatto

Categories: Recipes


Cheryl Mussatto

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City; an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, KS where she teaches Basic Nutrition; and is a freelance writer and blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncologist Expert and World Renowned Robotic Surgeon in New York City. Cheryl is also the author of The Nourished Brain, The Latest Science on Food’s Power for Protecting the Brain from Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook, both available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.

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