Mayo-free Pasta Salad

Summer is on the horizon and it’s time to make sure you add an extra dose of veggies to your plate. Pasta salads are a dish that has countless varieties. The protein, vegetable, pasta, and dressing combinations are truly endless. I find that too often pasta salads are left with two main dressings, Italian and mayonnaise based. While I don’t have an issue as much with the Italian choice, the mayonnaise base presents a variety of problems. My first issue is that I find mayonnaise disgusting. I dislike the taste and texture of the stuff. I also find it insulting yet humorous when I request no mayonnaise and I am told that there isn’t mayonnaise on my dish just aioli. Umm…bruh…that’s the same thing! It’s first class mayonnaise. Other foodies insist that homemade versions are will change my life but here I am…typing…life unchanged. My rant aside the other issue that I have with mayonnaise in salads is the food safety factor. How many of us have seen the potato salad, pasta salad, and coleslaw sitting under the foil in the direct sunlight for God knows how long? I see your hands up. Me too. It’s truly a terrifying site. The mayonnaise in this dishes is a breeding ground for bacteria that is growing exponentially by the minute. Temperature abuse of foods with mayonnaise during the summer months is the leading cause of foodborne illness and emergency room visits. Please avoid these dishes during your summer festivities unless they are placed out of the direct sunlight and are sitting on ice. These dishes like revenge are best served cold. This was a public service announcement from your friendly local (if you live in the Bay Area) foodie. Now about this recipe. It’s delicious! The end. Just kidding. It is a good one loaded with vegetables and protein. Give it a try as is or make it your own and let me know how it turns out.

Serving size: 8

Active time: 15 minutes

Inactive time: Cooling and marrying of flavors


1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced

2.5 oz olives IMG_0885

2 tomatoes, diced

1 English cucumber, sliced

1 C. fresh broccoli florets, cut or broken into bite sized pieces

12 oz tri-color rotini

12 oz fresh or frozen shrimp

1 T. salt

1 T. seasoning salt

1 T. granulated garlic

1 T. pepper

1 t. cayenne

1 t. parsley

1 t. dill

1 t. cilantro

1 t.chives

3/4 C. Extra virgin olive oil

1/4 C+2 T. balsamic vinegar


1. Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s directions. After cooking, use cold water to cool off the pasta, and sit it to the side.

2. Cut the bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and add them to a large bowl.

3. Peel and slice the cucumber.

4. Add the shrimp and olives to the bowl. Don’t worry if the shrimp are still frozen because they will defrost in the refrigerator. If you are planning on eating or serving this right away then use fresh shrimp.

5. Add the cooked and cooled pasta to the bowl and mix to combine ingredients.

6. Add all of the seasoning to the pasta and mix thoroughly to combine.

7. In a liquid measuring cup measure the oil, balsamic vinegar, and mix to combine.

8. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator until fully chilled. Stir every 30 minutes to combine ingredients and ensure a proper marriage of flavors.


9. When the pasta salad is chilled enjoy!

Notes and variations:

  • Any pasta can be used for this recipe.
  • Any vegetables can be added or substituted for this recipe.
  • Any protein or protein substitution can be used.
  • Any herbs or seasonings can be added or substituted in this recipe.
  • C=cups
  • T=tablespoons
  • t=teaspoons
  • oz=ounces
  • lbs=pounds




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