Cottage Cheese Pasta Salad is a refreshing and protein-packed side dish with flavored cottage cheese, fresh vegetables, Italian dressing, and tender pasta!
This post is sponsored by AE Dairy,
but all opinions and text are my own!
Why I love Cottage Cheese Pasta Salad
- Protein!!!!! Cottage cheese is a great source of protein. You could even use a high-protein pasta for an added boost!
- It's so versatile. I love using whatever vegetables I've got on hand to mix in!
- You can use any medium-sized pasta and can even use whole wheat pasta!
- It's a very simple recipe with simple ingredients! I think we all love that!
- Did I mention it's DELICIOUS?! With the tangy flavor of the dressing and the flavor-packed Garden Vegetable Cottage Cheese from AE Dairy....seriously, YUM.
- Cottage Cheese - You can use plain cottage cheese (small or large curd) or AE Dairy's Garden Vegetable Cottage Cheese. You can also opt to use low fat cottage cheese.
- Italian Dressing - Homemade or store-bought is fine. You can use other salad dressings such as ranch if you prefer that flavor.
- Pasta - My favorite shapes to use are rotini, farfalle (bowtie), penne and elbow macaroni. You can use regular, whole wheat, gluten-free, high-protein, etc!
- Vegetables - The options are endless! I typically use cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, broccoli, bell peppers and red onion.
- Cheese - I use cubed cheddar cheese, but you can use other kinds as well.
How to Make Cottage Cheese Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. Cook time will depend on the shape of pasta you use. Then, drain the hot pasta and rinse with cold water.
While the pasta is cooking, you'll make the creamy sauce. To do so, you'll need a blender or a food processor. Add the cottage cheese and dressing and mix until nice and smooth.
In a large bowl combine the cooked pasta, vegetables, cheese and creamy cottage cheese sauce. Mix gently until well-coated and give it a taste. Season with salt and black pepper, if desired.
The last thing you'll do is chill the salad and enjoy!
Tips for Making a Great Pasta Salad
- Be sure to add salt to the water when cooking the pasta noodles. Starting with bland noodles is never good!
- Don't overcook or undercook the pasta. You want the pasta to be soft but not mushy.
- Add a variety of vegetables with bright colors and different textures.
- Chill the salad before serving. It's much more tasty and refreshing when cold rather than room temperature.
Other Delicious Add-Ins
When it comes to pasta salad, the options for add-ins are endless!! Here are a few of my favorite...
- Cooked and crumbled bacon - That crispy, salty touch is SO good! Diced ham is another great option.
- Peas - Adds a lovely pop of sweetness and color!
- Olives - My husband and kids love having black olives in their pasta salad!
- Cheese - Try crumbled feta cheese, cubed mozzarella, Colby jack, etc!
- Hard-Boiled Eggs - If you're going for protein-packed, adding chopped hard-boiled eggs is a great way to do so!
Other Popular Side Dishes
I hope you all enjoy this lightened-up pasta salad as much as our family does! It's a great recipe to add to your summer rotation!