I’ve always been a huge fan of pasta salad. In fact, I’ve always been fond of pasta in general. Something about it is just so comforting. I’m guessing that feeling is related to the copious amounts of pasta I enjoyed as a child.
Back in the day, my bowl would have been full of white pasta, butter, and parmesan. Or parmesan butter noodles, as we so often asked for. Those were definitely a childhood favorite.
As for pasta salads, they’d be heavy on the mayonnaise and light on the veggies. If you were lucky, your bite may contain a piece of celery or a bite of carrot.
These days, my pasta salad preferences are a bit different.
A week or so ago, I joined a friend for coffee and breakfast. Well, I guess I’ll call it brunch since I totally ordered lunch at 10 in the morning. What?
I was starving and I just couldn’t resist the description of the wrap and pasta salad combo.
[red pepper hummus, caramelized onion, goat cheese, sprouts, tomato, spinach and cucumber on a whole wheat wrap]
Yeah, you had me at goat cheese. And hummus. And caramelized onions. Sold.
The pasta salad didn’t have a description, but I just had to order it on the side. And for good reason – it was absolutely delicious.
So delicious, in fact, that it left me craving more. Only this time, I prepared it myself. Unlike my butter noodle mayonnaise-filled pasta eating days, these days I prefer to put a healthier spin on dishes.
So rather than saying “more butter please,” I used a combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dress up my pasta.
I also replaced the white pasta with whole wheat fusilli.
Then I added in a variety of colorful veggies,
and some lentils for protein.
And voila! I had a healthified pasta salad that is heavy on the veggies, light on the pasta. I suppose it would be more appropriate to call it a veggie salad with a little bit of pasta. Either way, it turn out fantastic.
So what’s in it?
Veggie-packed Lentil Pasta Salad
1.5 C. cooked whole wheat pasta (boil, drain, rinse)
1 C. cooked lentils
1 C. roasted broccoli florets
1/2 C. chopped red cabbage
1 C. chopped kale
3 peeled and chopped carrots
1/8 C. balsamic vinegar
1/8 C. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. nutritional yeast
1 T. dried oregano
stevia, salt, and pepper to taste
Cook and drain the pasta. Rinse it in cold water and then set aside for later.
Chop the vegetables to your desired size and shape. Then massage the kale in the dressing to soften it up. Add the rest of the veggies and allow them to marinate for about 30 minutes before adding in the pasta and the lentils.
The lentils are easy – open and use. Gosh, I love Trader Joes.
This pasta salad can be served warm or cold, as a main meal or a side.
I made a big batch, so first I had it for lunch (served atop more greens because I’m a spinachaholic). Then the next day I had it warmed up as a side dish. And lastly, I served the rest chilled with veggie paninis.
It was equally delicious no matter how it was served. And now, I’m craving another batch.