Kids may turn up their noses at a lot of foods, but rarely do you see them get finicky when it comes to pasta. One of the major bonuses for parents is that pasta is inexpensive, versatile and keeps well in the fridge. I like pasta because you can add an endless variety of meats, vegetables, and sauces to it and still give your kids a well-rounded meal.

Recently, I’ve been trying to come up with yummy lunch box recipes and this pasta “hero” is fantastic. I was inspired by one of those gorgeous, layered submarine sandwiches that you get from a deli, but this spin on the classic substitutes pasta for the bread and is SO much easier for little mouths to navigate since everything is bite-sized.

Kenya’s eyes got wide when I opened his bento lunch box and he saw all the beautiful colors and shapes this dish contains, and of course, one of his favorites, pasta. I designed this recipe to feed 6-8 people because once your brood sees how incredible it looks, everyone is going to want their own bowl!


Pasta “Hero”

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Servings: 6 servings
Author: Catherine McCord
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 16 Oz Box Whole Wheat Fusilli
  • 1 1/2 Cup Ham, Turkey, Salami or any of your favorite cold cuts, cut into thins strips or cubes
  • 1 Cup Monterrey Jack, shredded or cubed
  • 1 Cup garbanzo beans
  • 3/4 Cup Pimentos, diced
  • 3/4 Cup Olives, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wIne vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Italian herbs, dried
  • 1/2 Tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tsp dijon mustard


  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Strain and rinse with cold water. Place pasta in a bowl.
  • Add the meat, cheese, garbanzo beans pimentos and olives to the pasta.
  • Whisk the remaining dressing ingredients in a bowl to combine.
  • Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss.
  • Serve.


Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 660mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g
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About the Author

Catherine is a mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.

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