This colorful orzo pasta salad is nutritious, filling, and can be made in minutes. It is always a huge hit at my Food for Life classes!
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Orzo is a lovely little pasta that looks a lot like slivered almonds to me. When choosing pasta, I always go with the whole grain options.
Is pasta bad for you?
Some people imagine that pasta–along with bread, potatoes, and rice–is bad for you, but the opposite is actually true.
Carbohydrate-rich foods are helpful for permanent weight control, because they contain less than half the calories of fat, which means that replacing fatty foods with complex carbohydrates automatically cuts calories.
“The thinnest people in the world consume 80% of their calories from complex carbohydrates.”—Dr. Neal Barnard, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
It’s important to remember to eat healthful carbohydrates, such as whole grains, pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.
Processed carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice, are not as healthful a choice because they have lost much of their fiber and other nutrients and tend to have a higher glycemic index.”—PCRM
Other whole grain pastas could also be used in this recipe, as the vegetables and dressing lend themselves well to variety.
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
This is a light and delicious as a veggie pasta dish, and so easy that this recipe can be made in about 20-minutes.
Easy oil-free dressing for pasta and salads
The simple oil-free 3-2-1 dressing used with this dish requires only three ingredients–balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup–to be whisked together in a small bowl.
Added to the orzo and veggies, this dish comes together with a burst of tangy flavor!
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.
Recipe from Physicians Committee, Food for Life: KickStart Your Health.
Other Plant-Based Pasta Dishes:
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- 8 oz orzo pasta I use whole wheat
- 1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1 cup green peas frozen and thawed by running warm water over
- 1 Tbsp basil, ground fresh can also be used
- 1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted optional
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
Cook orzo pasta according to package directions.
Thaw frozen peas by placing in colander and running warm water over them.
Place all pasta ingredients in large bowl--orzo, green peas, tomatoes, pine nuts (if using), basil, salt, and pepper. Add balsamic dressing (recipe below).
Whisk together balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
Pour over orzo and veggies. Mix well and serve warm or cold.