Searching for the perfect side dish for your Labor Day party? Look no further. My lightened up Avocado Ranch Pasta Salad is ready in no time and is packed with wholesome ingredients. Best of all, it tastes amazing and is made with RANCH! Really, what more could you want?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Unilever® as part of the 2019 Agents of Change program. As always, all opinions are my own. 🙂
Growing up, I was never a fan of pasta salad. For some reason, it just never appealed to me. I always went for the meat, baked beans, veggie trays and dessert at cookouts. Recently, I had a pasta salad that rocked my world! It had ranch dressing, bacon and avocados. I mean, how could you not like pasta salad with those ingredients? As a dietitian, I am always looking for ways to lighten up recipes. That’s where this delicious recipe comes in.
My “lightened” up avocado ranch pasta salad is made with whole grain rotini pasta noodles for a fiber boost, lots of colorful bell peppers for vitamin C, and avocado for some good fats.
Since we’re talking about ingredients, I used Sir Kensington’s® Avocado Oil Ranch dressing. It’s made with simple, non-GMO ingredients you can feel good about. They use Certified Humane Free Range eggs and cucumber juice that deliver the full-bodied taste of ranch, without the use of dairy and sugar. Plus, it’s lower in saturated fats and sodium than other ranch dressings I have found.
This September marks National Family Meals Month, an event designed to support families in enjoying more meals together, by pledging to have one more meal together at home per week. While this recipe is a great Labor Day side, it’s also a perfect addition to family dinners, especially during the busy back to school season!
1. I like to slightly undercook the noodles. For example: If the package suggests 8-10 minutes, I would do 7 minutes. This will help the pasta not get too “mushy” when you add the veggies and ranch.
2. I’m ALL about those time-saving kitchen hacks, so I like to use frozen corn in this recipe. However, I do love fresh corn. If you have time to cut the corn off the cob – that’s great too!
3. When the pasta is done cooking, add the chopped red onion and frozen corn to the hot pasta water. This will help take some of the bite out of the onion and will defrost/slightly cook the corn.
4. Cooking for 1-2? Half the recipe:
- 1 cup whole wheat rotini pasta
- ¼ of a medium Red Onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh corn or frozen corn kernels
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (you can use other colors, but you just need one bell pepper)
- ½ Avocado, diced
- ½ tsp Lime juice
- ½ cup Sir Kensington’s® Avocado Oil Ranch dressing
5. Add a squeeze of lime juice to the avocado to prevent the avocado from oxidizing/browning.
6. Add bacon, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, chicken, beans or chickpeas to customize. This can be served as a side or main dish.
Avocado Ranch Pasta Salad Recipe
- 2 cups whole wheat rotini pasta
- ½ of a medium Red Onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh corn or frozen corn kernels
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ orange bell pepper, chopped
- ½ yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 Avocado, diced
- 1 tsp lime juice or juice from ¼ of a lime
- 1 cup Sir Kensington’s® Avocado Oil Ranch dressing
- Cook pasta noodles per the package recommendations. I like to slightly undercook the noodles. For example, If the package suggests 8-10 minutes, I would do 7 minutes.
- Once the pasta is done cooking, add the chopped red onion and frozen corn to the hot pasta water. This will help take some of the bite out of the onion and will defrost/slightly cook the corn. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain again.
- Place the noodles, onion and corn in a large bowl. Put this mixture in the refrigerator while you chop the peppers and avocado. Toss avocado in lime juice to prevent too much browning.
- Add bell peppers, avocado and Sir Kensington’s ® Avocado Oil Ranch dressing to the pasta bowl. Toss all of the ingredients together and place the bowl back in the fridge to chill. Let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine and the pasta to chill.
- Serve as a delicious side dish or add rotisserie chicken and serve as a main dish.
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