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As the title suggests I wanted to create a healthy low fat pasta salad that actually tastes good. I’m happy to report that I’ve done just that!! Loaded with different textures and flavors combined with a tasty creamy dressing to bring it all together
There are a few simple things that you can do to make sure you have perfectly cooked pasta every time. The first step is making sure that the water is salted. Salting the water infuses an extra layer of flavor to your pasta making sure that every component of the pasta salad is seasoned. The water should taste like the ocean. I normally go with a tablespoon of salt per quart.
Once the salted water has reached a rolling boil add your macaroni and stir immediately for about 30 seconds. As the pasta cooks you should give it a stir every two minutes or so until it’s ready. This will prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pot as well as help the pasta cook evenly.
There are so many varieties of pasta shapes and sizes. Any type you have will die but I try to use pasta shapes that have ridges and twists to hold maximum dressing. Small shells are great because the dressing tucks into the shells. Other varieties like a rotini, fusilli, cavatappi, Campanelle and Radiatori are good pasta salad options to use. Avoid smooth edges like plain elbow macaroni or smooth rigatoni if possible but it works if it’s all you have. Other smaller options like orzo or Israeli couscous are nice because of their uniform size.
To create any tasty pasta salad or any salad for that matter you need a great foundation. The dressing or sauce is that foundation that will provide the flavor throughout the dish. Replacing the heavy mayonnaise with nonfat Greek yogurt still gives a creamy texture but with none of that fat and about 75% less calories. The secret is to use other ingredients with the nonfat yogurt to build up the flavor. Fresh herbs, vinegar and mustard help to fortify the flavor in the pasta salad along with different spices to round out the dressing.
This is where you get to be creative. Make this healthy pasta salad your own by adding whatever veggies you love to the mix. Fresh is always best and organic local is even better. If you don’t like onions skip it, if you love cucumber then load up on them. There’s no end to the possibilities so go wild with the veggies you enjoy and skip the ones you don’t. I basically raid my fridge and pile up all the veggies I have on hand and just start slicing and chopping. Using a Japanese Mandolin to slice thin uniform vegetables like radishes, seedless cucumbers, carrots and onions.
Personally I’m a big fan of olives so I added a can of drained black olives to the pasta salad. I’m also a fan of Garbanzo beans so a can of those was added as well. You can add these or not depending on your taste. Adding a small amount of Parmesan cheese can add a lot of flavor with minimal fat to the pasta salad. Other optional ingredients that you may chose to add include: