Ensalada de Conchitas

Summer is on its way and so that means it’s time to break out the pasta salad recipes for picnics and barbeques. Here is a recipe for what is called “Ensalada de Conchitas” (little shell salad), because of the shape of the pasta used. (I have no idea if this is an “authentic” Salvadoran recipe but it’s something Suegra used to make which I’ve changed a little.)

ensalada de conchitas



• One 7 oz. package of “conchitas” pasta (the brand I use is La Moderna but any small shell-shaped pasta is fine)
• Mayonnaise (whichever brand you like)
• A handful of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped (best if you avoid the stems & use only leaves)
• Juice of 1/2 a lime
• 1 tablespoon of ketchup (brand not important)
• Salt & Pepper to taste


1. Boil water with a few dashes of salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Pour pasta into a colander and run cold water over them until they’re no longer hot.

2. In a large bowl, combine pasta with mayonnaise. The amount of mayonnaise will depend on your personal preference, so just add it slowly and mix it in until your preferred level creaminess is achieved.

3. Add cilantro, the juice of 1/2 a lime, and a tablespoon of ketchup. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to your personal tastes and then refrigerate for at least an hour or two so it’s nice and cold before serving.

little shell pasta salad


  1. Looks delicious! lo de las hojas de cilantro me pone reir. I do it too, depending the recipe, but older women, like my mother, would undoubtedly tell you that all the flavor is in the stems and that they should never be wasted. One time she caught me using just the leaves y me dijo algo asi, “que tienes? puedes comer apio pero no estos tallos de cilantro tan tiernos? Que pretenciosa!”

  2. My momma makes this too we add a little mustard instead of the ketchup and finely chopped onions and yesss the flavor is in the stems of the cilantro! =) ya me distes ganas de hacer esto con something on the grill!!

    • I’ve tried Greek yogurt and I personally wouldn’t like it mixed in a pasta salad, but if you’re used to making substitutions like that, it might work for you. The mayonnaise I use is Light Hellmann’s and it comes out great, so if you’re worried about fat content, you don’t need to use full fat mayo.

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