Get the Skinny: Pasta Salad, 3 Ways!

Pasta salad the ultimate multi-purpose dish: Serve it up at tailgates and BBQs, serve as a side for a weeknight dinner, pack leftovers for a weekday lunch, or top a crisp green salad with pasta salad. But we’re not talking just any pasta salad – the white pasta and mayonnaise send the starchy calories over the top. Instead, we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly on 3 quick-and-easy pasta salads that are protein-rich, high in fiber and naturally gluten-free!

 

Any type of non-white pasta can be used, though chickpea pasta has the appearance and texture more like traditional white pasta. To cut carbs and calories even further, and add a serving or two of extra veggies, try swapping out spiralized zucchini, beets or carrots.

 

See recipes below for:

  • Creamy Avocado Cilantro Chilled Pasta Salad | GF, Vegetarian
  • Sensation Chilled Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese, Red Peppers & Pepitas | GF, Vegetarian
  • Basil Pesto Chilled Pasta Salad | GF, Vegetarian

 

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This creamy chilled chickpea pasta salad is naturally gluten-free, with enough protein and fiber to stand on its own as a full vegetarian meal – or add grilled chicken or shrimp for an additional boost of protein. Zucchini noodles can also be used in place of chickpea pasta.

 

Creamy Avocado Cilantro Chilled Pasta Salad | GF, Vegetarian 

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Banza chickpea pasta rotini or penne (dry)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, halved and peeled with the pit removed (or 1 cup avocado)
  • 1 cup 2% Fage Greek yogurt (note:  recommend ONLY 2% or full-fat Greek yogurt, not fat-free)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus additional for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups fresh arugula or baby spinach, wilted
  • 1 cup red and yellow tomatoes, halved

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta. Cook according to package instructions until pasta is al dente. Careful to not over-cook, as chickpea pasta can become mushy. Drain, toss with olive oil, and set aside.

While pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Add avocado, Greek yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender. Process on high for 20 to 30 seconds, until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine avocado sauce, salt, pepper and wilted arugula or spinach. Add pasta and toss gently to evenly coat.  Add tomatoes and gently toss until evenly distributed. Serve chilled

Per serving: 330 calories, 19 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 250 mg sodium, 31 grams carbohydrate, 11 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar (0 added sugar), 16 grams protein

With Zucchini Noodles in place of Banza, Per serving: 200 calories, 17 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 200 mg sodium, 10 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 6 grams protein.

 

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Serve this chilled pasta salad as an entrée or a side dish. Keep with vegetarian or boost the protein by topping with grilled chicken, shrimp, or lean steak. Zucchini noodles can also be used in place of chickpea pasta.

 

Sensation Chilled Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese, Red Peppers & Pepitas | GF, Vegetarian 

Makes 8 servings

Ingredietns:

  • 8 ounces Banza chickpea pasta rotini or penne (dry)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large red peppers, deseeded and cut into thin strips
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 8 ounces Hanley’s Sensation dressing (or Hanley’s Caesar dressing)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas, roasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta. Cook according to package instructions until pasta is al dente. Careful to not over-cook, as chickpea pasta can become mushy. Drain, toss with olive oil, and set aside.

Add all remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta and toss gently to combine. Serve chilled.

 Per Serving: 390 calories, 30 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 370 mg sodium, 17 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 3 grams sugar, 16 grams protein

With Zucchini Noodles in place of Banza, Per serving: 300 calories, 29 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 340 mg sodium, 1 gram carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 0 sugar, 9 grams protein

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This recipe is nearly as easy as 1-2-3. With just five simple ingredients as the base recipe, we can serve it up as-is, or dress it up as much as we want. Think grilled Portobello, chickpeas, or cubed tofu to keep it vegetarian. Store-bought pesto is fine, though we highly recommend only the refrigerated semi-fresh made versions.

 

Basil Pesto Chilled Pasta Salad | GF, Vegetarian  

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Banza chickpea pasta rotini or penne (dry)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, torn
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts, roasted

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta. Cook according to package instructions until pasta is al dente. Careful to not over-cook, as chickpea pasta can become mushy. Drain, toss with olive oil, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss pasta with bail, pesto and cherry tomatoes until evenly combined. Top with pepitas and serve chilled.

 Per Serving: 440 calories, 27 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 360 mg sodium, 39 grams carbohydrate, 11 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 18 grams protein

 With Zucchini Noodles in place of Banza, Per serving: 250 calories, 23 grams fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 300 mg sodium, 7 grams carbohydrate, 3 fiber, 2 grams sugar, 5 grams protein

 

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Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD