If you bring up the topic of pasta salad with anyone in my family, I guarantee they will start to laugh. Why? Because I once had an infamous collision with an extra-large batch of the stuff, right before we were about to take it to a Fourth of July picnic.

I was about five years old , and I guess I lost control of one of my limbs (not an uncommon occurrence), which brought the pasta salad crashing to the floor. I remember screaming, “DON’T TELL MOM!!!” as my sister Lea laughed hysterically and I tried to scoop the dog hair-covered pasta back into the bowl.

Ah, fond memories.

Anyway, despite that experience, I still really love my mom’s pasta salad recipe. Her recipe included a few ingredients that I like to avoid (e.g., white pasta), so I decided to put a little Caroline-twist on the original. And by that, I don’t mean adding dog hair.

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

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Makes 4 entree-sized portions

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 4 oz dry whole wheat elbow pasta
  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 ounces light sharp cheddar (such as Cabot)

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For the Dressing:

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

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Method

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil; cook pasta according to package directions. The brand I used required about 7 minutes to cook.

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2. Meanwhile, chop veggies and assemble the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

3. Once pasta has cooked, drain and cool with ice cubes.

4. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, then add dressing and stir to coat. Chill for 1-2 hours prior to serving.

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Nutrition per 1/4 recipe (~240 grams): 304 Calories, 9.9g fat, 1.7g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 321mg sodium, 45.0g carbohydrate, 8.2g fiber, 3.2g sugars, 13.4g protein

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Have you ever re-invented one of your favorite family recipes?

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