Sunday, July 1, 2012

What's for Dinner: Italian Pasta and Vegetable Salad

When it’s hot out, I think cold salads. This is a variation of a recipe I first tried at my sister Joyce’s place. It’s easy to add and subtract items depending on what’s in the pantry, garden and the refrigerator. It’s also a great salad to make ahead and have it ready for you when you get home from a busy day.

What makes it Italian? The Italian dressing and the Italian herb-seasoned diced tomatoes. And a side benefit of using canned tomatoes: They add moisture so you don’t have to use so much dressing (thus saving calories without sacrificing flavor).

Recipe: Italian Pasta and Vegetable Salad

1 pound corkscrew pasta
1/2 cup Italian dressing (I used fat-free Wishbone)
1 28-ounce can Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes
4-6 tablespoons McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning
Fresh vegetables of choice. I used:
            1 large English cucumber, unpeeled, cut
            1 small red bell pepper, diced large
            1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced large
            1 green bell pepper, diced large
            4 green onions, trimmed and sliced
            (Other vegetable options include broccoli florets, cauliflower florets)
1 cup black olives, sliced in half
Optional: Cubed ham, pepperoni or summer sausage

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is cold. Meanwhile, in very large bowl, pour Italian dressing, diced tomatoes, salad seasoning; stir to combine. Add cucumber, peppers, onions and cold pasta. Gently stir to combine ingredients. Chill (flavors blend best if chilled at least 2 hours; overnight is even better). 

Makes about 14 cups pasta salad.
Nutrition information per one cup:  177 calories, 6 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 31 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 1 milligram cholesterol, 431 milligrams sodium.

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