Pasta salad makes a wonderful side dish or an entire meal any time of the year. Chilled, it's an excellent choice when the mercury climbs outside, says Healthy Steps by Jokari, plus it's the perfect food for packed lunches, a picnic, potluck dinner or barbecue. Pasta salad is versatile -- make it kid-friendly or with grown-up gourmet ingredients. Mix, match and get creative using whatever you have on hand in your fridge and pantry. Healthy Steps offers these ideas to get you started.
Make ahead, chill and simply serve. Prepare pasta ahead, toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking, cover tightly and your pasta salad will be ready to serve in no time. Vary pasta shapes to keep it interesting.
Control pasta portions. Never again cook more pasta than you need. The Healthy Steps Portion Control Pasta Basket measures one serving of pasta and works with any type of pasta. The silicone basket provides a contained cooking space and up to four baskets fit into one pot -- great for restaurant-style choices right at home. Everyone gets to have their favorite, at the same time.
Pasta: Select a shape. Macaroni, shells, spirals, bow ties, wagon wheels, penne, etc. -- almost any type of small or medium-sized pasta will do. Next pick a flavor. Whole wheat, spinach and other flavored pastas work well.
Protein: Optional, but protein adds flavor as well as nutritional value and turns a side dish into a main course. A smorgasbord of choices is available -- diced, sliced or chopped, cooked meats such as chicken, turkey, beef, pork or seafood; hard boiled eggs; flaked canned fish or seafood; shredded, cubed or crumbled cheese; and canned beans and legumes. If you are topping a pasta salad with a meat or fish use The Healthy Steps Portion Control Protein Server it delivers a perfect three ounces of meat portion every time.
Vegetables: Add flavor, texture, color, crunch and nutrition to pasta salad with vegetables. Diced or chopped raw vegetables like celery, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato and grated carrots will kick up the taste.
Pickles: Another option, pickles will add flavor. Try sliced or chopped olives, dill pickles, relish, artichoke hearts, asparagus or sweet pickles.
Salad dressing: Choose a creamy or vinaigrette dressing recipe -- either will add to the flavor while holding ingredients together. To a basic vinaigrette recipe add different herbs and spices to create a variety of flavors. Tip: Pasta absorbs the dressing so if you are making the salad ahead, use half the dressing and add the remaining half just before serving. Create your own healthier salad dressings -- pour the perfect serving size.
The Healthy Steps Portion Control Dressing Cruet provides a stylish solution to the age-old problem of pouring too much salad dressing. The cruet comes with three recipes embossed on the bottle, plus a fourth healthy salad dressing option inside. Homemade salad dressings can be much healthier than store-bought dressings, with less calories, saturated fat and sodium. Give your homemade dressing a couple of shakes, and then squeeze perfect 2-tablespoon portions into the top serving chamber. Try this recipe:
2/3 cup olive oil or flavor of your choice
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons green onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon rind, finely grated
Salt and black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in the Healthy Steps Portion Control Dressing Cruet, shake and squeeze a perfect two tablespoon portion into the top serving chamber. Healthy Steps kitchen tools are developed on the principle of portion control. Each stylish utensil provides the perfect measure of ingredients for cooking.
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