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SOURCE Pasta Fits
NEW YORK, July 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The warmer months are finally here and with them comes an array of fresh ingredients to incorporate into mouthwatering pasta salads. Perfect for a beach day lunch, quick weekend snack or tasty picnic dinner, pasta salads are an easy-to-prepare meal that can pack a lot of nutrients and flavor without major prep or cooking time. What's more, there is no better time to select fresh ingredients to create new and unique recipes.
"Pasta salads are a quick and healthy meal, with lots of delicious recipe options. They are ideal for combining protein with the fresh nutrient-dense greens and vegetables available this time of year," says registered dietitian Diane Welland. Welland offers the following tips to make the perfect pasta salad:
Use Small Shapes – It's better to use small pasta shapes like shells or elbows when assembling your pasta salad. These pastas hold the sauce and are easier to pick up with a fork. If you keep the pieces (of vegetables or other ingredients) relatively small and uniform in size, the salad will be easier to eat. This doesn't mean that all of the ingredients should all be the same shape The more variety in shape, texture and color, the better – it adds excitement!
Sauce it Right– Make sure that the consistency is not too thin or too thick. Remember that pasta will absorb flavor as it sits. For lighter sauces, such as ones using lemon juice, olive oil and fresh herbs, dress the pasta at the last minute. For heavier, mayonnaise or yogurt-based sauces, dressing the salad ahead of time will allow the pasta to take in the flavor of the dressing.
Seize the Season – Fresh herbs and veggies are a must to add some sparkle to your pasta salad. Dill, parsley, cilantro, and basil all come into season in the spring and summer – use them! Seasonal veggies like asparagus, beets, green peas, and sugar snap peas can all make great partners to cold salad too. Adding some lemon zest or rind may add flavor while preventing some vegetables, like green beans, from discoloring.
Go Green – You may think leafy green veggies are for garden salads only – but you're wrong! Greens, like spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, and arugula, are nutritional powerhouses that easily add texture and flavor to pasta salads. Greens taste great raw or cooked. Although nutrient content varies by variety, these tender, colorful leaves are generally high in important vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K, A, C, folate, potassium and magnesium.
Love your Leftovers – Last but not least, pasta salads are ideal for using leftovers! You can make a delicious pasta salad in no time by putting your leftovers to use. Toss a small amount of leftover protein, such as grilled chicken or roasted vegetables, with some cold pasta, add in some fresh herbs or vegetables and splash of dressing and you are done. Voila, last night's meal is turned into a delicious new dish that will easily please a crowd.
Looking to treat your family with pasta salad? Try at our Perfect Summer Pasta Salad recipe below. To enter the Pasta Salad Sweeps and more recipe ideas, nutrition information and other pasta resources, please visit www.pastafits.org.