If I had to pick my favorite time of year it would be a toss up between Spring and Fall. In the end though, I think that Spring would win out because its such a time of renewal. I’ve been lucky enough to do some traveling this year and am now on my third round of watching things come alive. As I look out my window the trees are in bud, with the promise of the lush green that is soon to come. The birds are chirping and I can see some busily building their nests. And the lawn – which really needs cutting – is filled with wild flowers. It’s hard not to get caught up in the beauty and wonder of it all.
You know what else I love about Spring? It’s the time when we all start thinking about picnics and cookouts. Of course, at the forefront of my mind is food!
Today’s quinoa pasta salad is great any time, but I especially love it for out door dining. It’s light and refreshing which makes it a perfect side dish. It’s also filling enough for a meal for those of us who don’t eat meat. (Or those who just want to enjoy a meatless meal!)
I’ve been making some form of this dish for years. It started with Bob Barkers Pasta Salad in Rachel Ray Magazine and has evolved from there.
In this version I use both quinoa and pasta and I dare say it is a favorite. I really love the additional texture of the quinoa! I used tri-color quinoa because it adds a nice visual touch but feel free to use whatever quinoa you wish.
I used brown rice pasta because I was making it a day ahead of time and I think it holds up a little better than Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta. (I couldn’t find Andean Dream Quinoa Pasta – which in my opinion holds up better overnight than Ancient Harvest.)
I did use my chia seed Balsamic Vinegar dressing – made without the flax oil, but one thing I’ve found is that it is best to toss the pasta with a little olive oil prior to adding it to the remaining ingredients. The chia seed dressing is great for taste, but if you don’t add a little oil you may find that the pasta is drier than you would like. (I suspect that this would be less of an issue with white pasta.) You can skip this step if you are serving right away.
Lastly, make sure you have a little extra dressing on hand should you need it. I tend to add a splash of either dressing or straight balsamic vinegar on top of my pasta right when I serve it.
- 12 ounces dry pasta - regular or gluten free
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 cup black olives, chopped
- 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¾ cup balsamic vinegar dressing (more or less to taste)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool to room temperature prior to proceeding. (I like to spread the pasta out on a cookie sheet.)
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine quinoa, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, olives, artichoke hearts, red onion and capers. Add lemon juice, oregano and balsamic vinegar dressing. Toss well and salt and pepper to taste. Add additional dressing if desired.
3.7 g Fat
39.2 g Carbohydrates
8.3 g Protein
31 mg Cholesterol
4 g Fiber
2.1 g Sugars
6 Weight Watchers Points Plus
4 Weight Watchers Old Points
Nutritional Information EXCLUDES balsamic dressing so you may account for the specific dressing that you use. (roughly 1.5 tablespoons per serving)