Mexican Inspired No-Mayo Macaroni and Cheese Salad

Total Time
30mins
Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins

First this is a much healthier and lighter version of traditional mayo based macaroni salads. This is such a nice salad for summer BBQ's, pot-lucks, even just dinner with the family. It is not spicy, but has a slight Mexican flair. Sour cream, spices and chopped peppers make this a great salad. I actually have 2 versions of this. I have added some sliced black olives and used Monterey Jack cheese, but my favorite is no olives and a good sharp Cheddar. Serve this with some spicy grilled chicken, burgers, steaks, hot dogs, etc. It is just a nice side dish.

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. Dressing -- In a small bowl, add the salsa, sour cream, lime juice and zest, cilantro, cumin, pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well and refrigerate. NOTE: I start out with 1/2 cup salsa, and 6 tablespoons of sour cream. You can always add more once you dress the salad.
  2. Pasta -- Simply cook in good salted water according to package directions.
  3. Vegetables -- In a large bowl, add the chopped green and red pepper, onion and scallions.
  4. Toss -- Once the past is done, drain and this is one time where I actually rinse my pasta under cold water. Drain well. Add to the bowl with the vegetables and add the dressing and the cheese. Toss well. You can add a bit more sour cream and salsa if necessary. Taste for seasoning and add any more salt and pepper if needed. And remember - this is not a creamy mayo type of salad. This is a healthier light version so there is not as much dressing.
  5. Serve -- ENJOY!
Most Helpful

Inspired is right. This was a great meal, especially for a hot day. I got a great deal on them, so I used one each of green, red, yellow, and orange peppers. I also added sliced black olives, some halved grape tomatoes, and one chopped avocado. I did not use the onion but increased the scallions (raw regular onions tend to overstay their welcome with my taste buds). I used 4-5 oz cheese, cut into small cubes which seems to toss better than grated. I made the dressing almost exactly as written, using 1% fat sour cream (and chunky salsa), and it is just wonderful. I love lime. I let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. To serve, I put spinach leaves on plates, then my stirred together salad + dressing + pasta (used whole grain rotini), then chopped cooked chicken from a previous dinner, for a complete one-dish meal (not to mention a fiesta of color). It took a bit of time just doing the chopping by hand, but that wasn't such a big deal and it is well worth it (plus you get plenty for lunches). I will definitely make this again (looking forward to sharing this one with friends at the next potluck type occasion). Thanks!

Meredith C-ville June 06, 2010

We had this dish for my graduation potluck and I liked it much better than traditional macaroni salad. Now I am wondering about making rice or potato salad in the same fashion?.....Yum!

brianbarcello May 11, 2010