With the holidays coming up and everything coming to a pinch, it seems like fast food is becoming more the rule than the exception. I don’t know about you, but after a while, I get pretty sick of those cold hamburgers dripping mustard on my pants as I’m hanging a right into the next parking lot. And the mess is nothing compared to the indigestion it causes later, not to mention the general feeling of unwellness at the end of the day.
Most people are well aware that fast food does not make a good regular addition to your diet. Fast food once in a blue moon will do relatively little damage, other than leaving you without much energy. But in the long run, the effects of high fat and low nutrition on your health can be detrimental. Clearly, the answer is to eat healthier. But without much time in our schedule for cooking, we’ve got to find recipes that are quick and easy to make while being delicious, and packed with nutrition to boot.
I first learned about pasta salad when I was a senior in high school from my boyfriend’s mother: she made the stuff all the time during the summer as a side dish for whatever else she was serving for dinner. But the problem was, her pasta salad wasn’t very healthy. It had only specks of veggies here and there–just a sprinkling, really–and the pasta she used was just run-of-the-mill white noodles. To top it off, she used low-fat Itallian dressing, which is filled with chemicals and non-food additives.
To make my pasta salad healthful as well as delicious, I use the best ingredients I can get my hands on. Only the freshest veggies for me, and pure virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar without any additives.And for the pasta, I use Barilla Rotini Plus pasta because it’s not just made from normal flour–it’s also made from a legume flour blend that includes lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, barley, spelt, and oats, so it’s’ got 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per 2 oz serving. Barilla Plus also tastes better to me, and seems to be easier to cook to just the right texture without it getting too soggy. And I use the rotini shape, also known as corkscrews, because it really does a great job holding the dressing, and because it’s easy to mix bites with just the right mix of pasta and veggies.
So enough description: it’s time to get down to business….
1 whole green pepper, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced
4 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
6 oz Hormel Turkey Pepperoni (70 percent less fat than traditional pepperoni)
5 ounces marbled Monterey Jack/Colby cheese, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp ground sea salt
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil, fresh pressed
1 lb Barilla Plus rotini pasta, cooked
Combine all ingredients except for pasta and toss. For each serving, combine equal portions veggie mixture and pasta and toss well. If you have leftovers, I strongly recommend tossing the leftover pasta with a small amount of olive oil and storing it in a separate baggie. Storing the pasta together with the veggies and dressing will cause the pasta to continue to absorb liquids from the veggies, as well as the vinegar from the dressing, and the result will be a salad that seems too dry and pasta that is softer than it should be.
This pasta salad is delicious, and can easily be stored a couple of days in the fridge for the next time you’re hungry.