Like many Americans, I have a fondness for creamy, mayonnaisey and delicious pasta salads. No matter how I try to lighten my diet, there's just something about that creamy richness (especially in the summer time) that I find appealing.
Since I'm not blessed with a metabolism that will let me indulge in such a dish too often, I've found ways to replicate the creamy rich texture with less fat. One easy way is the recipe I made for lunch today. It is from the magazine Eating Well, to which I've subscribed for several years. Much like my other favorite magazine Cooking Light, Eating Well strives to print healthy recipes that taste great while keeping things like oil and fat in moderation.
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is very forgiving. It can be easily doubled, easily halved, and the ingredients are easily substituted when one or two might be missing. Like today, I carefully wrote down all I needed to buy to make the salad but somehow the words "yellow or red bell pepper" didn't register, and my salad was bell pepper-less. I typically add baked tofu to the salad, but today I didn't have any so I added a can of chickpeas instead. And, I don't tend to measure the vegetable ingredients. I halved an entire container of grape tomatoes, threw in a bunch of pre-shredded carrots, slivered what looked to be enough basil and thus kept the preparation somewhat free-form. The dressing makes enough to coat the salad easily (along with whatever additions I've added) so I've never worried about having a too dry salad. Oh, and I leave out the olives because I don't like them. And its MY pasta salad - :) !
Garden Pasta Salad
Serves 6 1 cup portions
Eating Well's note: To make this salad more substantial, you can toss in canned chunk light tuna, cooked chicken or flavored baked tofu.
2 cups whole-wheat rotini (6 ounces)
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup diced yellow or red bell pepper (1 small)
1 cup grated carrots (2-4 carrots)
1/2 cup chopped scallions (4 scallions)
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 cup slivered fresh basil
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold running water.
2. Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, oil, vinegar (or lemon juice), garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Add tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, scallions, olives and basil; toss to coat well.
Per serving: 205 calories; 9 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 1 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 291 mg sodium.