Pasta Salad Recipe

I recently offered to make a pasta salad for a baby shower in our neighborhood. I generally don't care for pasta salads because I find them oily and flavorless. To me, they usually appear healthy at first glance, but then, upon closer inspection, they are just empty carbs, high fat cheeses and oil, and hardly any veggies - with no flavor! Arg!

So, when my friend was hosting a baby shower, I offered to take on the challenge of making a perfect pasta salad.

I created my criteria:
1. Food-allergy friendly for my daughter
2. Full of fabulous flavor
3. Healthy by carefully balancing fat, complex carbs, and veggies

(Feel free to take a moment to laugh that I made criteria. And, while you're taking a reading break to laugh, you might as well laugh that I also researched how to make a pasta salad by reading multiple articles about pasta salads. Okay. Are you ready to move on?)

After establishing my criteria, I started researching pasta salads, and I found a fabulous article on about how to make a pasta salad. From the tips in this article, I created my game plan, went to the grocery store to buy ingredients, and put together a great pasta salad!

(I couldn't write a post without a picture...but I forgot to take a picture of the pasta salad!)

Without further ado, here's the recipe!

Renee's Healthy and Flavorful Pasta Salad
1/2 pound short, shaped organic whole wheat pasta (I like Bionaturae Chiocciole)
1 pint of organic grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup drained organic black beans
1/2 cup drained organic white beans
1 cup of finely chopped fresh organic spinach leaves
1/2 cup feta cheese
3 organic green onions, chopped
1 organic lemon
Dressing (see below)

Dressing Ingredients and Directions:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (Some people will feel this creates a dressing that's too lemony. If you don't like that much lemon, then add more oil. Do NOT use balsamic in a pasta salad, though, because it will cause the pasta to turn brown.)
1/3 grated parmesan
3 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

1. Shake all the ingredients together in a jar!
(NOTE: This dressing is good on a ton of stuff so any extra dressing can be used with salads, etc)

Salad Directions:
1. Cook pasta until it's 2 minutes past al dente. I know, this seems odd, but once you chill the pasta, if you only cook it to al dente, it'll be too hard.
2. Drain pasta
3. In the same pot while the pasta is hot, toss pasta in enough dressing to coat pasta. **It's is very important to toss the pasta while it's hot!
4. While cooking the pasta, make your dressing and get your add-ins ready.
5. When the dressing tossed pasta has cooled, dump in add-ins and toss gently.
6. Add enough dressing to cover the add-ins.
7. Cover and refrigerate for two to three hours.
8. Before serving, take one lemon and zest about half of it. Then, squeeze in one to two teaspoons of its juice. Toss the salad with the lemon add-ins and serve!

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