Dinner Tonight: Healthy Pasta Salad

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pasta-saladI love a good pasta salad. The typical version, loaded with mayonnaise, oils, and white pasta, isn’t usually the healthiest of meals. However, this healthy pasta salad uses yogurt, whole grain pasta, and tons of vegetables.

Recent studies have shown the benefits of fermented foods, like yogurt, on mood. But yogurt also has a positive impact on digestive health and the maintenance of a strong immune system. Plus fermentation may help to increase the nutritive value of foods by enhancing the body’s absorption of proteins, minerals, and vitamins, such as calcium and B vitamins.

The next time you are asked to bring something to a potluck, try this recipe!

Dressing:

1/2 cup organic plain yogurt
2 roasted garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Place yogurt, garlic, and spices in medium-sized bowl. Gradually whisk in oil and vinegar until well combined. Cover and put in the fridge while you start on the salad.

Salad:

12 oz whole grain pasta (rotini or spirals)
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup steamed green beans, cooled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup sliced, pitted black olives
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes

Boil pasta according to package directions or until al dente. Drain and run under cool water to stop the cooking process. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl and add remaining salad ingredients. Pour dressing over the top and mix thoroughly.

It’s fun to get creative with the vegetables – you can add your favorites, or whatever you have on hand, such as broccoli, spinach leaves, chopped cucumber, zucchini, diced onion or scallions, peas, grated carrots, etc. Feta cheese makes a nice variation, too!

Photo from here, with thanks.

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July 2015
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