Healthy Pasta Salad in the Valley of Death

The other weekend Ricky and I made our way out to Death Valley for the first Super Bloom in years. We were a few weeks late, but thankfully the flowers were still clearly noticeable.

Super Bloom on the side of the road

Driving through Badwater Road

I've lived in California for the majority of my life and had never made it to Death Valley before. In fact, for someone relatively adventurous and into travel, I hadn't been to a single national park until about 2 years ago. And in that time I've made it to 6! (My favorite definitely has to be Arches National Park in Utah).

We have a couple travel ideas for the rest of the year (fingers crossed) that may or may not involve skilled backpacking and camping, so we decided to test out our new backpacker tent (here) at Death Valley. We booked a campsite at Furnace Creek and it was the perfect location to experience as much of Death Valley as possible in the 24 hours we were there (seriously, it's huge. The park is the largest national park in the lower 48). See our photos below!

Devil's Golf Course

Badwater Basin

Golden Canyon Hike

Mesquite Sand Dunes

Mesquite Sand Dunes

We unfortunately did not have a grill at our campsite (and to be honest, we are still learning how to properly cook outdoors) so anything we brought to eat had to be prepped before coming, cold, and/or non-perishable. Other than sandwiches (we brought them for lunch and you can only eat so many in a day) , I was struggling to think of any good dinner options that would be both filling and satisfying cold. After some internet searching and suggestions from others I settled on making a healthy version of the camping staple: Pasta Salad. What's great about pasta salad is that it's insanely easy to prep, can be made ahead and stored in a cooler, and it's flavor only gets better with time.

Serving Size: 4 sides, 3 normal portions, 2 massive, famished hiker portions (we were this option)


2 cups cooked whole wheat or brown rice pasta

1/2 orange bell pepper, diced

1/4 diced red onion

8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 small head of broccoli, chopped

1 banana pepper, de-seeded, diced, and pickled* (follow my easy pickling instructions here, but remember to use white wine vinegar for light colored food)

1/4 block of monterey jack cheese, diced

6-8 slices of genoa salami

1-2 dashes olive oil

1 tbsp fresh parsely (1 tsp if dried)

1 tbsp greek yogurt

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp grainy dijon mustard

salt and pepper

dash of olive oil


1. Pickle the banana pepper for at least 1 hour, overnight for best flavor.

2. Roll together the slices of salami and thinly slice.

3. Blanche the broccoli- boil water in a pot, add broccoli and cook for 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water.

4. Combine pasta, veggies, salami, and cheese. Toss with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

5. Mix together yogurt, vinegar, mustard, oil, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over pasta for desired amount, toss to combine.

6. Store in cooler with ice for camping; pasta should last for 2-3 days.

#deathvalley #travel #pasta #salad #camping