Pasta salad is a great thing to eat in the summertime. It's cold, there are endless variations, and it's always welcome at a picnic.
Cold lunches always feel so light, but it's good to remember that pasta is still a calorie-dense food. Since I'm currently counting calories to loose the weight I put on due to a medical problem (discussed here), I've been making my pasta salads with less pasta and more vegetables. Oh, and lots of protein, of course.
This cheat sheet was inspired by an article in Eating Well, which is a great source for people who want to cook heathy meals that taste delicious and utilize good, seasonal produce. And who doesn't want to do that?
To serve four, you will need:
4 cups cooked pasta (uncooked, that's about 2 cups macaroni, 2.5 cups shells, and 3 cups bowties or fusilli, which I used here.)
4 cups vegetables
1.5 cups protein
No more than 1 cup total of full-flovor accent ingredients
3/4 cups salad dressing (I just used oil and vinegar with salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs.)
I used: arugula and fennel
Other good ideas: artichoke hearts, brocoli, mushrooms, red onions, sugar snap peas, beets, bell peper, zucchini and summer squash, fresh corn, celery, carrots
I used: Cannellini beans
Other good ideas: hard-boiled eggs, chicken, chick peas
Full-flavor accent ingredients:
I used: capers, chopped Kalamata olives, and shredded Parmesan cheese
Other good ideas: gorgonzola, cheddar, feta, dried fruit, banana peppers, jalapeños, prosciutto, bacon bits, sun-dried tomatoes