This whole grain gazpacho pasta salad is packed with cucumbers, tomatoes and is the perfect make ahead lunch for back to school time.
I was asked to participate in the #PastaFits campaign as part of my work with Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Avocado A Day Nutrition possible!
Hey guys! Excited to bring you the first of a 3-post collaboration with Pasta Fits! If you glance at my archives (or in my cabinet for that matter), you'd quickly see that I'm a big fan of pasta. Like, huge.
The theme for the first month of #PastaFits is back to school. Whether you have kids or not, September seems to be that time of the year when many start to settle down from a summer full of indulgence with healthier goals in mind. Of course, the holidays are right around the corner, making this month critical for establishing and solidifying healthier habits to take you through the smorgasbord coming straight at ya in November.
A great goal to start with is planning and preparing a healthy lunch on the weekend. Spend just 30 minutes prepping a big batch of whole grain based salad and you've got a third of your meals covered. BAM.
If you're looking for a family friendly salad to last all week, look no further than pasta salad. I mean, who doesn't like pasta? No really, who? I'm curious to know if there is one single person. My hypothesis is that every single human being who has ever experienced pasta loves it, but I could be wrong. Probably not though.
Sadly, there's a much larger number of people who absolutely love pasta who don't eat it because they think it's unhealthy. Ain't that a shame. First of all, there's always room for foods that bring you joy. But also, pasta is perfectly nutritious. My top choice is 100% whole grain, which is made with all whole grain flour. Whole grains are great for all sorts of things - cholesterol, weight management, keeping you full, and keeping your blood sugar steady.
Guess what else is good for blood sugar control? Pasta salad! Really! Studies have shown that cooking and cooling pasta helps lower the glycemic index even further. Once the starches in pasta are cooled, they turn into something called resistant starch. Similar to fiber, resistant starch doesn't break down into glucose, or sugar. This also means you absorb less calories and it feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Another thing to love about pasta salad: it's an easy way to use up leftovers. As I learned this weekend hanging out with mostly parents, not wasting leftovers is a constant battle parents go through. Simply add leftover vegetables or proteins to this salad which bulks it up throughout the week. Garbanzo beans, other cheeses, broccoli, carrots, peppers, and zucchini would all be tasty tossed in here.
Gazpacho Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces 100% whole grain penne
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/3 cup basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- pine of red chili flakes
- pinch of sugar
- 1 cucumber, seeded and diced small
- 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped small
- 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
- 1 8 ounce ball of mozzarella cheese
- Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
- While pasta is cooking, add canned tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and sugar to a food processor. Blend until pureed. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Place diced vegetables, olives and cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing. When cooled a bit, add pasta and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Will last 5 days in the fridge.
More delicious pasta dinners that show how #PastaFits: