Pasta salad is easy to make. It´s perfect for barbeque parties or other feasts. Pasta salad makes a perfect lunch as well.
To make a healthy pesto pasta salad you need:
- Wholegrain pasta
- Oil-free homemade pesto with fresh herbs
- Cherry tomatoes
- Other vegetables
Healthy pasta to choose
Eat the pasta as cold in the salad. The glycemic index is lower in cold pasta, and starch forms into resistant, so that´s good for all you pasta lovers. This means you don´t get those high blood sugar variations, and fewer calories are absorbed from the pasta. Resistant starch is also prebiotic, so the good gut bacteria get nutrition.
Use wholegrain pasta. Whole grain pasta is higher in fiber and has a lot more nutrients than white wheat pasta.
Other healthy pasta variations are:
- Wholegrain brown rice pasta.
- Lentil pasta.
- Quinoa pasta.
- Bean pasta
Which pasta has the least calories?
|100 grams of dry pasta||Calories||Protein/grams|
|Low-carb pasta(with inulin, soy, pea, egg white)||161||28|
|Buckwheat penne pasta||355||12|
|Corn and lentil spaghetti||354||13|
|Wholegrain wheat pasta||348||13|
|Red lentil pasta||335||25|
Pasta made from fresh vegetables like zucchini or carrots are very low in calories, but I would not call it pasta since the whole texture is different. As you see in the table, all pasta made from grains or legumes has about the same calorie content. The calories can, though, be absorbed very differently.
Is pasta good for protein?
Pasta is actually a high-protein food. 500 grams of cooked pasta has 20 grams of protein. This 500 calorie meal provides all amino acids if combined with legumes or nuts and seeds.
How to make a healthy pesto?
You can make healthy pesto from fresh herbs and nuts. Nuts have healthy natural fats and omega 3 fatty acids. Herbs are filled with phytonutrients. Adding some nutritional yeast gives you vitamin B. Fresh garlic has anti-inflammatory properties.
Healthy whole foods plant-based pesto is made from nuts or seeds and fresh herbs and leaving the oil out. Oil has empty calories and little nutritional value. Nutritional yeast replaces the parmesan cheese, gives b-vitamins, and saves calories.
For this pesto, I used pumpkin seeds, they are very nutritious and contain a lot of zinc. They do have a strong flavor. Cashew nuts have a milder flavor if you want the pesto to taste just basil. Cashew nut basil pesto is a good alternative for this salad.
Nut allergic can often use seeds. Seeds you can use in pesto are;
- pine nuts
- sunflower seeds
- green pumpkin seeds
- hemp seeds
If you would use only pumpkin seeds in the pesto recipe, the whole amount would have 50 grams protein, 16 grams Iron, 9 grams fiber, 750grams magnesium, 17 grams vitamin B3, and 12 grams of zink. So it is really a nutrient bomb.
The pumpkin seeds are quite strong and special in taste, so if you want to swap them for cashew nuts, you get for the whole amount of pesto 25 grams protein, 4,8 fiber, 9mg Iron, 316 mg magnesium, 7 grams Zink, and 8 grams B3. With different nuts, you get different nutrients, but all are healthy.
Is pesto sauce good for weight loss?
If you make pesto without oil, it is better for weight loss. That way, you can save 900 calories from your recipe with a half cup of olive oil. Change the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast flakes to reduce calories. Nutritional yeast still gives some cheesy flavor.
Nuts are high in calories but your body does not burn them the same way than pure oil, nuts have fiber so not all calories in nuts turn to energy. Studies show that people who eat nuts are actually slimmer than those who don´t.
To reduce calories even more in your pesto you can reduce the amount of nuts and replace it with more fresh herbs.
What goes with pasta salad?
Great topping for pasta salad are:
- Sundried tomatoes
- Grilled red peppers
- Basil and other fresh herbs
- Garlic sauce
- Pine nuts
- Black or green olives
- Plant-based mozzarella
- Grilled zucchini or eggplant
- Red onion
- Cherry tomatoes
To make a red pasta salad a great variation is to use muhammara red pepper spread as sauce.
Some roasted Italian vegetables also go really well with pasta salad.
How long will pasta salad last in the fridge?
Pasta salad lasts in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. If you have very moist ingredients such as cucumber and tomatoes, it is recommended to eat it in 2 days. If you store your pasta salad in a vacuum food container, it will hold for a week.
If you want to meal prep for the week, it is good to store the pasta separate from the salad, then the lettuce leaves will hold longer. The same goes with cucumber and tomatoes; the salad will get watery if you want to add fresh tomatoes and cucumber. Fresh cherry tomatoes will last longer than a regular one that is cut to pieces.
Do you add pesto to hot or cold pasta?
If you are making a salad, let the pasta cool down to at least room temperature before mixing in the pesto. If you do a warm pesto pasta, don´t warm up the pesto. Mix it in warm pasta.
- 500 grams whole grain pasta
- ⅓ leek
- 100 grams sundried tomatoes
- 200 grams cherry tomatoes
- 100 grams arugula
- 100 grams lettuce or baby spinach
- 1 bundle fresh basil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 0,5 tsp salt
- ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds, 0,8dl
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds, 0,8 dl
- ⅓ cup water, 0,8 dl
- Boil the pasta as recommended in the package. Drain it and cool it down.
- During cooking, make the pesto sauce. Roast the seeds on a hot pan for a moment. You can save some of them for decorating.
- Mix in a food processor the seeds, basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, and water to a paste.
- Wash and chop the veggies you want in your salad
- Mix the pesto with the pasta and add salad ingredients that you like.
For the pesto, you can use any nuts or seeds. Pumpkin seeds have a powerful flavor. Pine nuts give the best taste, but they are often costly. Sunflower seeds are the cheapest. If you use sunflower seeds, you might notice that the color becomes different with time.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 480Total Fat: 15,5gCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 8gProtein: 23g