Thursday, June 9, 2011
Summer Pasta Salad
Living in Michigan, I get my fair share of nights to enjoy warm winter casseroles and hearty dishes. We do, however, get to enjoy a few short months of beautiful sunny summer. During those months I try to make our meals as light and fresh. We frequently eat something we like to refer to as "Summer meal" which I will post about in the future. The other go-to meal for us is homemade pasta salad .
Pasta can get a bad rap. Yes it is full of carbohydrates, which in excess can lead to weight gain. BUT there are healthier versions of pasta which can be a great source of whole grains, even omega 3s! I like to use Barilla Plus which is not only whole wheat pasta, but also has added flax for omega 3s. Usually I choose rotini but occasionally get crazy and choose a different shape.
The next part of a healthier pasta salad is to load it up with veggies. BIG chunks of them. I usually put a variety of colors of peppers in plus cucumbers. You can add any vegetable you like - carrots, celery, tomatoes, zucchini, scallions, etc. The more the better! I try to make my salad have a 1 to 1 pasta to veggie ratio.
Lastly, I try to add a protein source to my pasta salad. I prefer to have chunk cheese, cut into cubes but will occasionally add shredded cheese instead if I don't have chunk cheese. We like to grill chicken and add it cubed to the pasta salad as a complete meal. I have also had cubed salami (an unhealtheir option) in the pasta salad.
Lastly, the important part of pasta salad is a good dressing. I have tried a ton of different varieties. My favorite dressing for pasta salad is Kraft's Greek Vinaigrette. Although dressing can add a lot off added fat, it adds a lot of flavor - so a little bit goes a long way. I usually add just enough to coat and serve extra dressing on the side in case anyone (i.e. the husband) wants to dump more dressing on there.
What are your favorite pasta salad ingredients?