Posted by: Hallie | April 15, 2009

Pasta Salad for the Potluck

My work is having a potluck lunch tomorrow to celebrate a few birthdays. And I almost wasn’t going to go, because I haven’t been feeling very happy about my food choices lately and I didn’t want to be tempted by the treats—and my coworkers can COOK, let me tell you. There’s usually the same fare at these things: bread/cheese, chips/salsa, crackers/hummus, salad, veggies, and SWEETS galore. And except for the cheese, I’m a big fan of all those things. So I was debating skipping it entirely and eating a salad or something at my desk. But thinking about it more, I realized:

  1. One of the birthdays being celebrated is that of my boss’s boss. So I should probably make at least an appearance.
  2. I don’t want to let my fear of proximity to unhealthy food keep me from fun things. I know the tricks (sit away from the food, don’t graze, avoid the boring, prepackaged stuff, load up on veggies, etc.) so it’s just a matter of putting them to use.

So I decided to go. Now I needed to come up with something to bring. I wanted to do something that was easy, that I was fairly certain would turn out ok, and that used ingredients I had on hand. Since I had a fresh shipment of CSA vegetables and a ton of pasta that we’re never going to eat, I decided on my party staple: pasta salad.

This pasta salad is super easy and healthy. The trick is to make it at least several hours ahead so the flavors can blend.

Pasta Salad


  • 1.5 cups short pasta, like penne, bowtie, or elbow.
  • 1/3 cup fire-roasted corn (from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 3 radishes, sliced
  • 2/3 cup chickpeas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup light Italian salad dressing (my fav: Newman’s Own)


  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Be careful not to overcook, because they will soften further when dressed.
  2. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop cooking process.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and toss.
  4. Let sit in fridge for at least 2 hours. Overnight if you can. Serves 6.

pasta salad

How crazy does that radish look? Organic produce: you never know what you’re gonna get. Or is that chocolate? I digress…

The best thing about this recipe is that you can tailor it to your tastes and ingredients on hand. In the summer I like making pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. I’ve also make a Greek version with Greek dressing, red onion, pepperoncini peppers, and feta. I work with a lot of vegetarians, otherwise I would have put in some crumbled cooked bacon or chopped pepperoni. Sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro, grilled zucchini, jarred jalapenos—the choices are almost endless! What do you like to eat or put in a pasta salad? Do you like the mayo-based kind or the dressing kind like I make?

I think my coworkers will like this, and it’s “Hallie-friendly” so I can have the leftovers for lunch on Friday. I just hope there aren’t three other kinds of pasta salad at the potluck tomorrow. Clearly, work parties give me a bit of anxiety (I’m sure that’s shocking to anyone who’s read my blog before). But I know in the end, I’ll have a good time—and if nothing else it’ll make tomorrow go by a little faster and that gets me one step closer to the weekend!

I’m off to stalk some people on Twitter. Goodnight!



  1. That sounds like a great recipe! I’m not a mayo girl (just something about it gives me the heeby jeebies!) so I prefer dressing based 🙂

  2. That pasta salad looks great, what a good idea to make that, atleast you know you can fill your plate up with that and other veggies and get a balanced meal.
    I love dressing based pasta salads, I hate the mayo ones.

  3. I love the addition of radishes! They add a nice pop of color, and, I’m sure, a nice little crunch and bite. I hope you had fun at the potluck. They can be a bit of a challenge, but it sounds like you definitely have the right strategies in mind. 🙂

  4. Well I am definitely happy you decided to make it to the party! It’s never good to let food prevent you from fun.

    I love pasta salad in the summer, but I do not like the mayanoise kind.

  5. […] Healthy Twists Muffin Experiment First off, if anyone read my last post, remember how I said that I hoped there wasn’t 3 other kinds of pasta salad at the potluck? Well, […]

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