Monday, August 8, 2011

Meatless Monday... Balsamic Garden Delight Pasta Salad

Bring some color to the table with this wonderful pasta dish, bursting with veggies!  I couldn't resist stopping at my local farmstand and picking up some local produce!  This pasta salad has everything you would want in a vegetarian dish.  Along with the crunchy veggies, I used a variety of beans to give it a protein boost and to help satisfy.  The parmesan cheese and balsamic dressing give it just enough savory flavor.  

Speaking about local produce... Look for your local farmer's market or farmstands to get the freshest and most unique produce.  Fruits and vegetables always taste so much better when they don't travel across the country... and then sit in the cooler at the grocery store.  Shop local as much as possible to decrease your carbon footprint!  Ask the farmer how they grow their produce (many farm organically, but cannot afford to be certified).  

Challenge yourself to put in as many colors in your dinner or salad!  I found some purple peppers (which tasted similar to green peppers) and I knew they would look lovely in the pasta salad.  I also found "lemon cucumbers" and heirloom tomatoes to add to the visual enticement!  Add your favorite veggies to personalize your salad.  

Balsamic Garden Delight Pasta Salad
Serves 6-8

1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Zucchini, sliced
1/2 Pound whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup kidney beans
1 cup chick peas
1 cucumber, sliced
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Heat 2 tsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add onion and zucchini and cook for 3 minutes.  Cook pasta as directed.  Combine the remainder of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Allow the flavors to mellow and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.  

Enjoy with a side salad... or with a portion of meat if you don't want to go meatless!

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