It seams like most of us are looking for healthier eating options. We have days where we try to avoid meat, calling it “Meatless Mondays”, we cut back on our red meat consumption and try to substitute it with something else. But sometimes those options are not tasty, they leave us feeling hungry and are just loaded with too many carbohydrates. So with that said, that is not really a healthy route. Unless you do it the right way. So what is the right way? Getting in the proper nutrients your body needs to function. Meaning to have a protein with every meal,( It is vital for your muscles, heart and overall health), avoid saturated fats, get in some healthy carbohydrates, eat colorful vegetables and fruits (with their skin for fiber) use plain extra virgin olive oil instead of fat-loaded dressings and one other very important fact. take the time to eat and savor your food. It’s not a race. Remember eating is for nutrition, so enjoy the ride!
Many people associate protein with just meat. But protein comes in many variations such as in the form of “Beans.” Black beans provide potassium, folate, (important for pregnant woman) vitamin B6 and these support heart health. The fiber in black beans helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease. Yeah to a healthy heart!
My Mediterranean vegetable salad will provide an abundance of nutrition, great flavors and textures, low cost (great for your wallet) and all that main ingredient we forget about when we try to eat “Healthy”-protein. Plus, it is full of beautiful colors provided from the varieties of vegetables!
For this recipe I used two varieties of beans, black beans and garbanzo beans. Beans are packed with protein and nutrients and are a great substitution for meat. They provide a creamy texture and leave you full. They are a vegetarian eaters delight! Whenever I make a “lettuce” salad I put in some type of bean for that added texture and protein.You can either cook your own or do like I did, and purchase the organic beans already cooked from Whole Foods Market. Just drain and rinse. How easy is that?!
I also love to use fresh and dried herbs with my cooking. They provide great flavors, aromatics and are also beneficial to our health. Just remember when you are using dried herbs to crush them in the palm of your hand to release their flavor.
You can make this salad and eat it right after although I highly recommend you allow it to rest in the fridge overnight or for a couple of hours to allow all of the flavors to come together. Serve this at your next party or pot luck and it’ll be a great hit! And if you are trying to get your children to eat veggies, have them help you prepare this salad (less the cutting, that’s for you) Enjoy!
Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Salad
Ingredients: Serves 8
- 1 pound small dry pasta with ridges (I used Gnocchetti Sardi), cooked
- 1 cup cooked garbonzo beans, rinsed
- 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed
- 1 cup fire roasted sweet red peppers, finely chopped
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, finely chopped
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 2 green onion stalks, sliced diagonally 1/4inch
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed a bit in your palm( this releases the flavors)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool.
In the meantime prepare all of the ingredients and place them all in a large bowl. Add in the pasta and gently mix to incorporate all of the flavors. Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.
You may eat this right away but it it best the next day, allowing all of the flavors to come together.