EatingWell's Garden Pasta SaladSimple to make and easy to tote, pasta salad seems to have been invented for picnics, potlucks and backyard barbecues. But typical versions consist of white pasta drowning, often tastelessly, in a heavy mayonnaise dressing.
Our challenge was to lighten the calorie load and boost flavor and nutrients in a classic pasta salad while keeping its creamy appeal. We started with a recipe featuring an aioli dressing (garlic mayonnaise) and bold Mediterranean flavors.
Take a look at how much healthier we made the original recipe:
How we did it:
Replacing regular mayonnaise with a mixture of the reduced-fat variety, low-fat yogurt and a splash of flavorful olive oil cut down the calories and saturated-fat content.
We replaced regular white pasta with whole-wheat pasta to add fiber.
We increased the proportion of colorful, crunchy vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and peppers and cut back on the pasta to allow for a generous serving size with significantly fewer calories.
- We also boosted the fresh basil. Herbs provide a terrific way to add vibrant flavor without upping the fat or sodium.
We were able to make a wonderful summer salad with just a fraction of the saturated fat and salt of the original. The nutritional analysis is impressive: the calories are reduced by almost half, the revised recipe has two-thirds less fat, much less sodium and double the fiber of the original-and our Garden Pasta Salad is still creamy and full of flavor.
Healthy Weight | Healthy Heart
Active time: 35 minutes | Total: 35 minutes | To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
This lightly dressed pasta salad gets lots of flavor from kalamata olives and basil. A colorful mix of diced bell pepper, shredded carrot and tomatoes adds vitamins and minerals. Serve on a crisp bed of greens. Toss in canned chunk light tuna, cooked chicken or flavored baked tofu (see Note) to add protein and make it more substantial.
2 cups whole-wheat rotini (6 ounces)
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup diced yellow or red bell pepper (1 small)
1 cup grated carrots (2-4 carrots)
1/2 cup chopped scallions (4 scallions)
1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/3 cup slivered fresh basil
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold running water.
2. Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, oil, vinegar (or lemon juice), garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Add tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, scallions, olives and basil; toss to coat well.
Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each.
Per serving: 205 calories; 9 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 1 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 291 mg sodium; 269 mg potassium.Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (97% daily value), Vitamin A (70% dv), Fiber (17% dv). 2 Carbohydrate Servings. Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 fat (mono).
Ingredient note: Precooked "baked tofu" is firmer than water-packed tofu and comes in a wide variety of flavors. You might also like flavored baked tofu on a sandwich or in a stir-fry.
Healthy Potluck Recipes
I like to have healthy food options when I go to a party. So when it's a potluck I make sure to take something that's not just a crowd pleaser, it's healthy too. Right now we're planning a feature for EatingWell magazine for next summer that's going to be all about making over classic potluck dishes. We're talking dishes like fruit crisps, coleslaw, potato salad, deviled eggs and bean salad.
We would love to make over your favorite potluck recipes. We'll cook them and then try our best to replicate all the great flavor while cutting calories, fat and saturated fat. So if you have a favorite recipe you think might be ripe for a makeover, send it our way and we'll take a look. Send it to email@example.com.
By Jessie Price
EatingWell food editor Jessie Price's professional background in food started when she worked in restaurant kitchens in the summers during college. She started out testing recipes for EatingWell and then joined the staff here full-time in 2004 when she moved to Vermont from San Francisco.
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