This Easy Garden Pasta Salad is as colorful as the rainbow and simply delicious. It will impress family and requires less than 30 minutes to make, so dinner can be on the table in no time flat.
Use whole grain pasta for a hearty dose of fiber–up to 6 grams per serving!
I used whole wheat penne pasta in this, but any variety could really be used. Another great one would be a whole grain spiral pasta.
Nutritional benefits of whole grain pastas
Whole grain or whole wheat pasta, such as spaghetti, is made from flour that contains the entire grain kernel, the germ, endosperm and bran.
Whole grain pasta is rich in many nutrients essential for human health and is high in dietary fiber, which promotes regularity and may help lower cholesterol and aid in cancer prevention.
The Harvard School of Public Health reports that whole grains, such as whole grain pasta, contain compounds called phytoestrogens or plant estrogens.
These substances may help to reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancers — particularly in conjunction with the minerals found in whole grains — such as copper, selenium, magnesium and manganese. — LiveStrong
In addition to the whole grain pasta, this recipe calls for baby lima beans, corn, carrots, and red kidney beans. I like to use frozen vegetables because they are economical and convenient to keep on hand.
Are frozen vegetables healthy?
In some cases, frozen vegetables may be more nutritious than fresh ones that have been shipped over long distances. The latter is typically picked before ripening, which means that no matter how good the vegetables look, they’re likely to short-change you nutritionally.
For example, fresh spinach loses about half the folate it contains after eight days. Vitamin and mineral content is also likely to diminish if produce is exposed to too much heat and light en route to your supermarket.
This applies to fruit as well as vegetables. The quality of much of the fruit sold in retail stores in the U.S. is mediocre. Usually it is unripe, picked in a condition that is favorable to shippers and distributors but not to consumers.
Worse, the varieties of fruits selected for mass production are often those that merely look good rather than taste good. I keep bags of frozen, organically grown berries on hand year-round – thawed slightly, they make a fine dessert.
The advantage of frozen fruits and vegetables is that they usually are picked when they’re ripe, and then blanched in hot water to kill bacteria and stop enzyme activity that can spoil food. Then they’re flash frozen, which tends to preserve nutrients.
If you can afford it, buy frozen fruits and vegetables stamped USDA “U.S. Fancy,” the highest standard and the one most likely to deliver the most nutrients. As a rule, frozen fruits and vegetables are superior nutritionally to those that are canned because the canning process tends to result in nutrient loss.—Weil
Terrific side options for this Easy Pasta Salad would be a baked sweet potato, corn on the cob, crusty bread, or even grilled asparagus. Nothing says delicious and convenient like a fast, fresh, and easy pasta salad.
To adjust the serving sizes of any of my recipes, simply go to the ‘Servings’ listed in the recipe card right above the ingredients list. Hover over the number of servings, and a sliding bar will appear. Slide to the number of servings you would like, and the ingredients will automatically adjust the amounts.
Other Great Salad Recipes
- 4 cup whole grain pasta, cooked spiral pasta prefered
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables corn, green peas, carrots, green beans, etc.
- 1/2 cup fresh red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup frozen baby lima beans
- 1 cup kidney beans, cooked
- 1/4 cup green onion, diced
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup Dijion mustard
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1-1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp orange juice
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic I used the jarred
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta with cool water. Even though I used penne pasta in these photos, I have since determined that my favorite for this recipe is spiral pasta.
Defrost the frozen vegetables by placing in a colander and running warm water over them.
In large bowl, combine all salad ingredients: pasta, beans, and veggies.
To make dressing, in a small bowl, mix all the ingredients and whisk together.
Pour dressing over salad and stir gently. Adjust seasoning to your taste preferences. Serve and eat!
Recipe from The Power of Foods for the Brain by Dr. Neal Barnard.
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