Monday, August 3, 2009

Cool Pasta Salad

I don't normally gravitate toward pasta salads but I found this recipe when I was looking for things that traveled well and didn't require heavy refrigeration for a camping trip recently.

The Pesto is low-cal since it doesn't contain any dairy. That's right, no cheese. Aside from the fresh herbs, this pesto gets it's big flavor boost from freshly toasted walnuts.

The recipe works perfect for a hot summer night dinner, and also packs well for an easy lunch. I enjoy the salad much better after it has slightly chilled.

I spent about five minutes in the pasta isle at the grocery store trying to decide between whole wheat pasta and regular. I finally chose whole wheat and it was delicious. I also added yellow cherry tomatoes in addition to the red ones which added an extra element of taste and flavor. The kalamata olives are an essential ingredient complimenting the sweetness of the tomatoes and nuttiness of the pesto with their own salty contribution.

Chicken and Farfalle Salad with Walnut Pesto

Total time: 26 minutes. To make sure the walnut pesto ingredients are evenly minced, stop the food processor halfway through processing, and scrape down the sides.

2 cups uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta; about 6 ounces)
2 cups cubed cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives

Walnut Pesto:
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove

Remaining ingredient:
4 curly leaf lettuce leaves

To prepare salad, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; rinse with cold water. Combine pasta, chicken, tomatoes, and olives in a large bowl.

To prepare walnut pesto, combine basil and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; pulse 6 times or until finely minced. Add pesto to pasta mixture, tossing gently to coat. Place 1 lettuce leaf on each of 4 plates; top each serving with salad mixture.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups salad and 1 lettuce leaf)

CALORIES 374 (30% from fat); FAT 12.5g (sat 2g,mono 5.5g,poly 3.9g); IRON 3.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 60mg; CALCIUM 62mg; CARBOHYDRATE 36.3g; SODIUM 393mg; PROTEIN 29.4g; FIBER 3g