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Easy High Protein Pasta Salad

This easy high protein pasta salad recipe comes together in under 20 minutes! Tossed in a creamy, homemade Italian dressing and filled with veggies, it's a high protein and high fiber summer cookout hit.

High Protein Ranch Dip

For starters, what’s not to love about pasta salad? It's so easy to make and with this recipe being a higher protein version than other traditional pasta salads, it's especially great to make ahead of time for a more balanced meal prep. What really makes this recipe is the homemade creamy Italian dressing; but if you don't have the time or desire to make your own dressing, store-bought dressing will absolutely work! Here’s why you’ll love this easy high protein pasta salad recipe in particular:

  1. It’s higher protein: I used Barilla Protein+ pasta which packs a couple extra grams of protein per serving compared to regular white pasta. This recipe also uses cubed cheddar cheese and light salami for some extra protein too. At the bottom of the recipe, you'll find ways to make this even high protein.

  2. It’s also high fiber. Protein tends to get all the attention, even on my own social media pages, but fiber is super important too. Fiber is incredibly important for overall gut health, helps with satiety and fullness, and can even help lower cholesterol levels. This recipe is packed with fiber from the veggies and even the pasta.

Easy High Protein Pasta Salad

  • 1 box of Barilla Protein+ Pasta

  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped

  • 2 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed

  • 1/2 C light salami

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped

  • 1/4 C pepperoncinis, chopped

  • 1/4 C homemade creamy Italian dressing

Homemade Creamy Italian Dressing:
  • 1/4 C light mayo

  • 3 TBSP. apple cider vinegar

  • 2 TBSP. olive oil

  • 2 TBSP. plain Greek yogurt

  • 1 tsp. minced garlic

  • 1/2 tsp. basil

  • 1/2 tsp. thyme

  • 1/2 tsp. oregano

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, set aside and allow to fully cool.

  2. In the meantime, prepare remaining ingredients for the pasta salad. With recipes like this that require a lot of chopping, I love using a vegetable chopper like this one.

  3. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Add drained, cooled pasta and mix well.

  4. In a food processor, blend all dressing ingredients together on medium speed until well combined.

  5. Drizzle ~1/4 C of dressing on top of the pasta salad and mix well to combine. Add more depending on your flavor and taste preferences.

  6. Serve and enjoy!

Servings: ~8

Macros per serving (not including dressing): 266 cals | 6g fat | 37g carbs | 16g protein

What makes this high protein:

Most pastas have 5-7g of protein per 2 oz. serving, depending on the brand. I love the Barilla Protein+ pasta because it has 10g of protein per 2 oz. serving plus the texture and flavor is super similar to regular pasta. You could also use a higher protein pasta like this chickpea pasta but I find that the texture is a bit chewier than regular pasta. This recipe also calls for light salami - deli meats, including salami, actually have decent protein content (7g per 6 slices) and by opting for the light version, you're keeping the overall fat content down. You also get some extra protein from the cheddar cheese as well.

Ways to make this even higher protein:

  • Chicken breast or chicken thighs; pre-shredded rotisserie chicken would also be a great, time-saving option!

  • Grilled shrimp

  • Different deli meats like turkey or chicken; adding turkey pepperoni would also be a great low fat, high protein option

How to store easy high protein pasta salad:

If you’re making this ahead of time, I suggest storing the dressing separately for a fresher flavor. These dressing containers work perfect if you're using this for weekly meal prep. To store, place leftovers in an airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. These are my favorite meal prep containers for this easy high protein pasta salad pasta salad!

Recipe Variations:

  • If you can’t find Barilla Protein Pasta, you can opt for a similar, higher protein pasta, like chickpea pasta, whole wheat pasta, or even just regular/white pasta if you prefer it. Any type of pasta will work.

  • Add any other fresh vegetables that you enjoy! Chopped vegetables like cucumber, broccoli, chopped spinach would all work, plus give you more fiber.

  • Add any other traditional pasta salad toppings that you typically like, i.e. like chopped artichoke hearts, feta or parmesan cheese, kalamata olives, fresh parsley, etc.

More easy high protein recipes like this:

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