Pasta salad offers a great twist on how we traditionally think about this staple dish - instead of a steaming bowl of spaghetti and sauce, throw in some fresh vegetables and chill it for an on-the-go easy and healthy meal.
Pasta salad is well-suited to changes, and I encourage you to modify it, adding your favorite ingredients or whatever leftovers you have. A few sliced hard-boiled eggs would give extra protein, and for crunch, try adding a handful of toasted, chopped nuts. And not only can you use up leftover ingredients in a pasta salad, this kind of meal lends itself well to leftovers. It's a grab and go dish that you can pack up in individual reusable containers and bring to work for lunch.
You can use whatever pasta shape you like, really. I really like rotini, but penne and shells work well too. Boost the nutritious qualities of this dish by using whole-wheat pasta, fresh herbs, and veggies.
1 lb whole-wheat pasta
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup olives(pitted)
1/2 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
1/4 cup basic vinaigrette
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Cook the pasta in salted water, drain, drizzle with the olive oil, toss and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes and quarter the olives. The basil can be minced or julienned, meaning that it is cut into thin strips. Combine these with the vinaigrette in a large bowl and let sit for a few minutes.
3. When the pasta is cool, add it to the tomato and herb mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can be served right away or left to absorb flavors for a few hours.