Get the kids to eat their vegetables with this Broccoli Salad Recipe. With a few extra ingredients like cheese and pasta, they will not even notice that they are mostly eating broccoli. This healthy pasta salad is heavy on the broccoli, light on the pasta and sure to be a hit!
How do you get the kids to eat more vegetables? Feed them this Broccoli Pasta Salad!
My daughter is and has always been a pretty good eater. She’s up for almost anything. But even I get the side-eye when I serve the kale or broccoli salad.
I’ve learned that you can get away with almost anything so long as you call it pasta salad. And extra points if there is cheese involved.
So, even though this Broccoli Salad Recipe is light on the pasta and heavy on the broccoli…the kids tend to focus on the pasta and cheese. All the while they are eating more broccoli than they realize. Mwahahaha!
This pasta salad is a riff on the traditional broccoli salad recipes that involve broccoli, dried fruit, onions, nuts/seeds and a creamy dressing. I ditched the onions because those are usually a deal breaker when it comes to kids. Instead I used sweet red bell peppers. Sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and a creamy light dressing to finish.
Can this pasta salad be made ahead?
Absolutely! It tastes fantastic after a day or two in the refrigerator. In fact, I use this broccoli salad recipe in a post for Lunchbox Ideas that do not involve sandwiches. (check out the photo below) Perfect for meal prep!
Are there any substitutions that will work?
Yes. You can use raisins or dried cherries instead of cranberries. Slivered almonds or most any other nut would work in place of the sunflower seeds. And feel free to use your preferred cheese.
How should you serve this pasta salad?
This is great for potlucks or barbecues. It makes a fantastic side dish with just about any dinner, especially grilled meats. Or, add cooked chicken to the salad and make it a meal!
What tools do you need for this recipe?
More healthy side dishes to serve up →
- 6 ounces Bowtie Pasta, (cooked/drained according to instructions)
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, (seeded & chopped)
- 6 Cups Broccoli Florets, (approximately 2 large crowns)
- 4 ounces Colby Jack Cheese, (cut into small cubes)
- 1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries
- 1/4 Cup Roasted Shelled Sunflower Seeds
- 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- Pinch Salt/pepper
- In large bowl, combine pasta, red bell pepper and broccoli. Allow pasta to cool completely.
- Add the cubed cheese, cranberries and sunflower seeds. Toss.
- Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined. Or, seal ingredients into a mason jar with lid and shake to blend.
- Toss salad and dressing until evenly coated.
**if not serving immediately, a drizzle of olive oil will refresh the salad**
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