By Isadora Baum
Pasta salad is a classic summertime staple for outdoor barbecues and beach days. If you’re looking for something lighter than the heavy, mayo-rich, refined pasta versions, there are clever ways to update them with your health in mind. With the right set of ingredients in flavor, they’ll taste just as delicious as the standard pasta salad dishes you’re used to. Here are 5 great recipes that are easy to savor in the summer and are nutrient-dense so they’ll fill you up for longer.
Red lentil pasta is more nutrient dense than white pasta, and the crumbled cheese adds some bone-building calcium, protein and flavor. Plus, feta has that bit of saltiness that works well with the black pepper. Go with heirloom tomatoes for that fun pop of color (like purple and yellow) and antioxidants for good health.
This penne pasta salad is clean and simple and uses gluten-free pasta noodles, so those with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance can enjoy it, too. Bright tomatoes offer the antioxidant lycopene to promote heart and skin health, and the red pepper flakes add a nice touch of heat to spice up the dish.
Made with brown lentil pasta, there’s more fiber per serving than with traditional pasta, as well as protein to fill you up. The strawberries are right in season for summer and there’s a nice balance of savory and sweetness thanks to the balsamic vinegar. Add avocado for extra good fats and creaminess.
Zoodles are a wonderful substitute for pasta if you’re watching your carb intake. Plus, zucchini also has high water content to boost hydration in the summertime. Make it Greek-inspired with olives, tomatoes and chickpeas. The olives add good fats and salty flavor, while the chickpeas increase fiber and protein.
Tired of zoodles? Swap it in for summer squash, another low-carb substitute that has great flavor and antioxidants. The basil and mint make the dish super refreshing, and you can sprinkle with red pepper flakes to bring in a bit of spice. The best part? It’s done in 11 minutes.