The Power of Pasta Salad

Filed in Uncategorized by on July 8, 2013 0 Comments
Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Tuna

When I need to make something not too complicated but that is colorful, healthy and never fails to please, I turn to pasta salad. We are settled at our beach house in San Diego, and cooking needs to be easy and breezy. Pasta Salad was our first big meal together and it was perfect. When I make it, it’s almost always freestyle, even if I’m planning ahead.  I find cooking like this very creative and restorative, and love “designing” salads that are balanced in color, flavor and nutrition.

If you’re concerned about the high glycemic load of regular pasta, you can replace the pasta with any of the following, each of which has a lower estimated glycemic load:

  • Whole wheat pasta or couscous
  • Brown Rice or wild rice or a blend
  • Quinoa or other grain, cooked according to package directions
  • Black Beans
Start with a base of your favorite shape of noodles or one of the above items, then add at least 5 of the things on one of the lists below. Moisten to taste with your favorite vinaigrette, commercial salad dressing, yogurt, or sauce.  Think about mood and flavor combos, and take off from here! Like Thai? Add some lemongrass, cilantro and something spicy! Mexican? Try sprinkling on a package of taco seasoning or fresh salsa and adding in some crushed corn chips.
For a Fresh Salad: I always keep all of the above items in my pantry, so if I have time to get to the market, I add some of the following to the base of pasta, rice, quinoa or beans, well seasoned either with salt and pepper, Mrs. Dash or your favorite herbal blend.
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • broccoli florets
  • cauliflower florets
  • sweet peppers
  • cheeses, either traditional choices like cheddar or muenster, or stronger varieties like feta or chevre
  • fresh parsley
  • olives
  • carrots
  • green onions
  • green beans, cooked till tender-crisp
  • sweet onion varieties such as Vidalia or Walla Walla
  • chopped pickles of any variety
  • roasted beets
  • nuts
  • something sweet, such as raisins or apples
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • fresh garlic
  • fresh herbs
  • roasted chicken breasts
  • deli meats, julienned
For a Pantry Salad: If I don’t have time to get to the market, I have gotten in the habit of keeping a selection of the following on hand on shelves and in the freezer, and these combine just as successfully with your pasta, grain or bean base:
  • artichoke hearts
  • canned tomatoes
  • roasted red peppers
  • canned fish such as salmon, tuna or crab
  • frozen chicken nuggets and fish sticks, baked as directed and sliced
  • frozen tiny shrimp
  • jarred bruschetta
  • canned olives
  • frozen peas, corn, beets, green beans, etc.
  • pepperoni and salami
  • frozen or dried herbs
  • roasted garlic
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • canned salsa
I hope you’ll expand your pasta salad horizons. By the way,  I’m excited about the FLY skirt KAL. It will be the perfect stash-buster, sort of like pantry knitting! My approach to cooking is a lot like my approach to knitting and a pasta salad is a lot like this upcoming KAL- a great way to combine things in a creative and fresh way and get just the perfect thing.


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