a healthy pasta salad with penne, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese

As the weather starts to heat up, we find ourselves craving light and refreshing meals. And when it comes to satisfying this craving, you can’t go wrong with the classic pasta salad. 

But is pasta salad healthy? Not always—traditional versions of this dish can often be heavy and loaded with unhealthy ingredients. That’s exactly why we’ve compiled this list of must-try healthy pasta salad recipes. These creations are perfect for all occasions—from quick weekday lunches to potlucks with the gang. So grab your apron and get ready to elevate your pasta salad game!


8 Easy and Healthy Pasta Salad Recipes

You don't have to sacrifice flavor to make a pasta salad healthy. recipes are packed with fresh and nutritious ingredients, making them both delicious and guilt-free—the best of both worlds!


1. Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad

avocado pesto pasta salad


This recipe puts a healthier twist on the traditional pesto pasta salad by replacing the usual olive oil with mashed avocado, yogurt, and lemon juice. This not only adds a creamy texture but also provides healthy fats and nutrients. Toss in some cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and grilled chicken for a delicious and nutritious meal.



  • 1 large handful fresh basil
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 small avocado, sliced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper


  • To make the pesto sauce, blend the basil, parsley, Greek yogurt, avocado, and lemon juice in a food processor or with a hand-held blender until smooth and silky. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook your pasta until al dente. Once cooked, drain, then add the grilled chicken and cherry tomatoes.
  • Drizzle the pesto sauce over your pasta and mix well. Top with additional avocado slices, if desired, and serve hot or cold.


2. Mediterranean Orzo Salad

mediterranean orzo salad



With colorful veggies, fragrant herbs, tangy feta cheese, and smoky oven-roasted turkey slices, this dish is packed with flavor and nutrients. To add an extra dose of fiber, use whole-grain orzo.


  • 8 oz Buddig Original Oven Roasted Turkey, sliced
  • 16 oz orzo
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves, torn into large pieces
  • 1 ½ cups red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced and seeded
  • ¾ cup red onion, diced
  • 5 oz green olives, drained and halved
  • 5 oz black olives, drained and halved
  • 7 oz feta cheese


  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  • Boil a pot of water and add a pinch of salt. Cook the orzo pasta for 10 minutes until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water, and let it cool.
  • Once the orzo is cooled, place it in a spacious mixing bowl. Combine the orzo with fresh spinach, chopped vegetables, olives, and ham. Crumble half of the feta cheese on top of the pasta.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together canola oil, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper until well combined.
  • Drizzle this vinaigrette over the pasta mixture and gently toss until everything is evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Sprinkle the remaining feta cheese over the salad.
  • Chill the salad in the fridge for at least an hour, allowing the flavors to meld together. For optimal taste, consume within 2-3 days, although it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.


3. Caprese Pasta Salad

caprese pasta salad



This recipe is a simple and healthy twist on the classic Italian caprese salad. The combination of fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, and fragrant basil will leave your tastebuds craving for more.


  • 8 oz Buddig Original Pastrami, sliced
  • 6 oz fusilli pasta
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 oz mozzarella (either pearls or one large ball torn into pieces)
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp balsamic vinegar


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set it aside.
  • As the pasta is cooking, combine olive oil, tomatoes, and salt in a large non-reactive skillet over medium heat. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally.
  • When the tomatoes begin to burst out of their skins and the olive oil starts to take on a light red hue, remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta. Let the mixture cool.
  • Once the pasta is cool, gently fold in the mozzarella balls and chopped basil into the pasta. Add vinegar to the mixture, then taste and adjust by adding more vinegar and/or salt if desired. Let the salad rest for about 20 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce.


4. Japanese Sesame Noodle Salad

japanese sesame noodle salad


Perfect for those who love a little adventure on their plate, this Asian-inspired noodle salad is bound to be a hit whether you're whipping it up for a quick lunch or showing off at your next potluck. We recommend using somen and soba noodles because they soak up sesame dressing like a dream. But if you just want to use what's in your pantry, other Asian noodles (or even Italian pasta) will still make your salad a star.


  • 8 oz Buddig Original Ham, sliced
  • 3 bundles somen or soba noodles
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
  • ½ head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • ½ cup Kewpie sesame salad dressing


  • Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles, following the package instructions. When you have about two minutes left to cook the noodles, add the frozen edamame.
  • Once the noodles and edamame are cooked, drain them and promptly transfer them into a bowl of ice water to cool.
  • To assemble the salad, layer the drained noodles and edamame at the base of a large bowl. Arrange your toppings in a creative pattern of your choice.
  • Drizzle the sesame salad dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine all the flavors. Best served immediately.


5. Lemon Capellini Salad with Smoked Ham

lemon capellini salad with smoked ham



This light and refreshing salad is perfect for a summer pasta lunch or dinner. The combination of lemon, dill, and smoked ham creates a flavorful and satisfying dish that will leave you feeling refreshed. This salad can be served as an appetizer or a main course, making it perfect for any occasion.


  • 4 oz Buddig Premium Deli Smoked Ham
  • 8 oz capellini or angel hair pasta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or granules
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 10 to 15 fresh basil leaves
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • zest from 1 lemon


  • Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.
  • In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and garlic.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and transfer to the bowl. Add the tomatoes, ham, capers, and cheese and mix until everything is evenly coated.
  • Refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavors to meld. After chilling, mix in fresh basil and garnish with lemon zest, additional cheese, and extra capers if desired.
  • Serve the lemon pasta salad with lemon wedges for more zing.


6. Cowboy Chicken and Black Bean Pasta Salad

cowboy chicken and black bean pasta salad



With protein-packed black beans, tender chicken slices, and a variety of fresh veggies, this salad is perfect for a quick lunch or as a side dish at your next barbecue. Mexican cheeses like queso fresco and Cotija cheese are ideal for this dish, but you can also use jack or cheddar.


  • 8 oz Buddig Fix Quix Southwestern-Flavor Chicken Breast Strips, torn into bite-sized bits
  • ½ lb farfalle pasta
  • 14 oz black beans (1 can), drained and rinsed
  • ¾ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange), diced
  • ½ cup green onions, sliced
  • ½ cup frozen fresh corn
  • ½ cup cheese, grated
  • zest from 2 limes


  • 6 tbsp fresh lime juice about 3 juicy limes
  • ¼ cup white wine or rice vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped 


  • Start by zesting your limes and placing the zest in a salad bowl.
  • Boil the pasta in salted water following the instructions on the package. While it cooks, prepare the dressing.
  • In a blender, combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and sugar. Blend until smooth. Gradually add the oil well incorporated. Add the coriander and pulse to achieve a slightly broken-up texture with some larger pieces remaining.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse it under cold water to cool quickly. Transfer the pasta to the salad bowl. Add the rest of the toppings. Mix in the prepared dressing, ensuring all ingredients are evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.
  • For best results, refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle cheese over the top. Offer extra lime wedges on the side for a tangy touch.


7. Healthy Macaroni Salad

healthy macaroni salad



This light yet satisfying macaroni salad’s combination of whole-grain pasta, fresh veggies, and turkey will leave you feeling satisfied without any guilt. The secret to this salad is Greek yogurt, which adds a creamy and tangy flavor while cutting down on calories.


  • 8 oz Buddig Premium Deli Smoked Turkey Breast, sliced
  • 12 oz whole-grain elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup red onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery finely, diced
  • ½ cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup orange bell pepper, diced
  • ⅓ cup gherkins pickles, diced


  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper


  • Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain thoroughly and drizzle with a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking. Transfer the macaroni to a large bowl and add in the red onion, celery, bell pepper, pickles, and eggs. Mix well and set aside.
  • In a spouted cup or medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk the ingredients together until they are thoroughly blended.
  • Pour the creamy dressing over the macaroni salad and gently toss until everything is evenly coated.
  • Serve the warm pasta salad immediately. If you prefer a cool macaroni salad, cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.


8. 4-Ingredient Pasta Salad

4-ingredient pasta salad


When it comes to convenience, nothing beats a simple yet tasty 4-ingredient pasta salad. This recipe is perfect for those hectic days when you need to whip up something quick and delicious with whatever you have in your pantry!



  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water, then drain and transfer into a large bowl.
  • Add the tomatoes and smoked ham.
  • Add the Italian dressing, mixing until everything is incorporated and evenly distributed.


What to Serve with Pasta Salad

A good pasta salad has everything you need in a meal – protein, carbs, and vegetables. But you can also serve it as a side and pair it with other dishes.

Stuck on what goes with pasta salad? Don’t overthink it. Part of the beauty of pasta salad is its versatile flavors, so figuring out what to eat with pasta salad should be easy. You can opt for grilled proteins like steak or shrimp, bread (just be careful not to overdo it on the carbs), fruit, or even another salad! Just remember to keep it balanced with a variety of textures and flavors, and you’ll quickly figure out what goes good with pasta salad to create a perfect meal. 

Ready to create your own mouth-watering healthy pasta salad with Buddig's delicious meats? Check out our store locator and get all the ingredients you need.

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