Mexican Inspired No-Mayo Macaroni and Cheese Salad

"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."
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Ready In:




  • 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.
  • Pasta -- Simply cook in good salted water according to package directions.
  • Vegetables -- In a large bowl, add the chopped green and red pepper, onion and scallions.
  • 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.
  • Serve -- ENJOY!

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  1. 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!
  2. 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!


<p>Growing up in Michigan, I spent my summers at my cottage in the Northern part up by Traverscity. On a lake, big garden which had all the vegetables you could imagine. My mom taught school, so summers were our vacation time. Gramps and I fished all the time so fresh fish was always on the menu, perch, blue gill, walleye and small and large mouth bass. At age 5 I learned how to clean my own fish and by 10 I was making dinner, canning vegetables and fruits, making pies and fresh breads. Apples fresh picked every fall, strawberries in June and July, Cherries at the Cherry Festival in Traverscity. So fresh foods always were a big part. Mom worked as a teacher during the year so dinner was more traditional with pot roasts, meatloaf, etc, but it seemed we always had fresh fruits and vegetables as part of the meal. Mom also didn't use as many spices as I do, but times were different back then. <br /> <br />So ... My motto is ... There is NO Right and NO Wrong with cooking. So many people thing they have to follow a recipe. But NO ... a recipe is a method and directions to help and teach someone. Cooking is about personal tastes and flavors. I love garlic ... and another person may not. I like heat ... but you may not. Recipes are building blocks, NOT text ground in stone. Use them to make and build on. Even my recipes I don't follow most times --They are a base. That is what cooking is to me. A base of layer upon layer of flavors. <br /> <br />I still dislike using canned soups or packaged gravies/seasoning ... but I admit, I do use them. I have a few recipes that use them. But I try to strive to teach people to use fresh ingredients, they are first ... so much healthier for you ... and second, in the end less expensive. But we all have our moments including me. <br /> <br />So, lets see ... In the past, I have worked as a hostess, bartender, waitress, then a short order cook, salad girl in the kitchen, sort of assistant chef, head chef, co owner of a restaurant ... now a consultant to a catering company/restaurant, I cater myself and I'm a personal chef for a elderly lady. I work doing data entry during the day, and now and then try to have fun which is not very often due to my job(s). <br /> <br />I have a 21 year old who at times is going on 12, aren't they all. Was married and now single and just trying to enjoy life one day at a time. I'm writing a cookbook ... name is still in the works but it is dedicated to those people who never learned, to cook. Single Moms, Dads, or Just Busy Parents. Those individuals that think you can't make a great dinner for not a lot of money. You can entertain on a budget and I want people to know that gourmet tasting food doesn't have to be from a can of soup or a box, and healthy food doesn't come from a drive through. There are some really good meals that people can make which are healthy and will save money but taste amazing. So I guess that is my current goal. We all take short cuts and I have no problem with that - I do it too. I volunteer and make food for the homeless every couple of months, donating my time and money. I usually make soup for them and many times get donations from a local grocery stores, Sams Club, Walmart etc, with broth, and vegetables. It makes my cost very little and well worth every minute I spend. Like anyone, life is always trying to figure things out and do the best we can and have fun some how along the way.</p>
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