Multi-Color Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad
Stephanie Lang, MS, RDN, CDN

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

Calories 361
Fat 10g
Carbs 53g
Protein 15g
View All
Total Time 30 min
Prep 15 min, Cook 15 min
Servings 6 (1 1/2 cups each)

Pasta salad is easy to make in bulk and pack for lunch, take on a picnic, or bring to a potluck. All you have to do is boil some pasta and chop up a few raw vegetables. The more colors you can add to the salad the better.

Red foods like red bell peppers and tomatoes contain a phytochemical called lycopene, which may have an anti-inflammatory affect on the cells lining the heart and blood vessels, and may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer among other cancers such as breast, lung, bladder, ovarian, and colon.

Ribboned basil leaves perfume the entire salad, so only a touch of olive oil and white wine vinegar are needed to make everything come together. To give this pasta salad more staying power, add beans for protein and feta cheese for fat and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cavatappi or other dry pasta such as fusilli or bowtie
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 4 ounces block feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1, 15-ounce can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients with the cooked and cooled pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

Cavatappi is a helix-shaped pasta that is great for pasta salad as it can catch the vegetables, herbs, and dressing with it's shape. Other great pasta salad shapes include fusilli or bowtie pasta.

You can use whole wheat pasta for extra fiber, or even a mix of whole wheat and white pasta for color, flavor, and texture variation. For a gluten-free, high protein and fiber variation, try quinoa instead of pasta.

This recipe works great with chickpeas instead of white beans. Play around with the vegetables—you could use fresh or frozen peas, fresh corn, chopped spinach, or finely chopped broccoli. For the cheese, you could use a cubed ricotta salata, fresh mozzarella, or goat cheese, or try shredded Parmesan instead of the feta.

The possibilites are endless, but the main idea is to fill your pasta salad with loads of fresh colorful vegetables and herbs, a little plant-based protein, and some healthy fats.

Cooking and Serving Tips

To store a bunch of fresh basil, place into a mini jar or vase and fill with water like you would a bouquet of flowers. Place a large plastic or zipped bag over the basil leaves.

This helps keep the basil leaves fresh so they do not brown immediately. Leftover basil can be used to make pesto or salad dressing, and the leaves offer a nice zing when added to sandwiches.

To cut the basil into ribbons, a technique known as a chiffonade, stack two to three basil leaves on top of each other and roll them up tightly.

Thinly slice the leave perpendicular to the roll.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 (1 1/2 cups each)
Amount per serving  
Calories 361
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 17mg 6%
Sodium 308mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Total Sugars 5g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 15g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 157mg 12%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 508mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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