Friday, March 11, 2016

Restorative Recipes: Healthy Pasta Salad

I've noticed two running themes in my food-related posts: they're either super healthy or beyond unhealthy. My recipes fall into the 'healthy' category, while my food-related excursions around Chicago tend to be laughably bad for my arteries. To make up for the bacon-fest that was Tuesday's post, I'm posting one of my favorite recipes: a supremely nutritious pasta salad! This recipe is easy, doesn't involve much cleanup (a pot, a colander, and a mixing bowl), and can easily be made vegetarian or vegan by leaving out the salmon and/or the feta. I know it's a successful recipe because whenever I make it, Jeff doesn't even look up from his bowl for the first few servings. It's also great the next day for lunch!

These are a few of my favorite things...

You will need:

1 box whole-wheat rotini
1 seedless cucumber
2 Roma tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 bunch scallions
1 14-oz can of chickpeas
2 lemons
olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp. ground black pepper
other seasonings to taste (I use ground coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, a hefty dose of cayenne, a dash of oregano, and ancho chile powder)
¼ pound feta cheese
8 ounces of cooked salmon

First, wash all your veggies. Then, fill a pot with water, dump in a healthy pinch of salt, and stick it on the stove. If you're a reasonably quick chopper (or have a vent fan above your stove to suck up the steam), you can turn on the stove and get the water heating up for the pasta. If not, you might want to make some headway with your chopping first. Since my dysfunctional kitchen doesn't have a vent fan, I usually chop the scallions and at least two of the peppers before I get the water boiling.

You'll want to chop your veggies in roughly half-inch cubes, so that each bite will have more than one veggie in it.
Just look at all these colors! I'm already excited to eat it at this point.

Once you've chopped some of your veggies, switch gears and make the dressing, following this recipe. Because I knew I'd be using leftover salmon in this salad, I made the lemon variation of the dressing. Dump in the veggies you've already chopped once the dressing is finished, then finish all the bell peppers. If the water is boiling by this point, drop in your box of whole-wheat pasta and SET A TIMER for the 'al dente' cooking time printed on the box. Then seed and chop your tomatoes (I just stick my finger into the cavities and pop out the seeds) and put them in your bowl with the dressing. Then chop up your cucumber, but don't put it in the bowl.
It's a rainbow of healthy, refreshing noms!

When the pasta is finished, dump it into a colander and quickly run it under cold water, then dump it in the bowl and mix. The pasta should still be a little warm, so that it will absorb the dressing and become extra delicious.

I'm sort of regretting my decision to write this post on an empty stomach.

Drain your can of chickpeas and throw them in the bowl as well.

Once you've mixed the pasta and chickpeas in, grab your feta and your salmon, if you're using them. Break the salmon into small pieces with a fork, and chop the feta into roughly the same size pieces as your veggies, then toss them in along with the cucumbers.

Everybody into the pool!

Top with some more cracked black pepper, serve, and enjoy! Be sure to bask in the glory of preparing such a well-balanced meal, packed with vitamins, fiber, protein, and calcium, too.
This really should serve more than two people, but Jeff and I don't eat like regular people…

What's your favorite one-pot meal?


  1. Another one to keep in my back pocket!

    1. Yay!! It's one of Jeff's favorites, so I have to put some aside in a container if I want leftovers, haha. It's also super budget-friendly if you leave out the salmon!

  2. Looks awesome! I've been so bad at making time to cook lately. Thanks for reminding me to do so!!!