#PastaFits Like Your Little Black Dress + Warm Minestrone Pasta Salad

Minestrone reinvented as a warm pasta salad is perfect is for my friends at lunch; with the addition of a little sautéed ham, it’s a tailgater’s delight.  Warm Minestrone Pasta SaladDisclosure: I was asked to participate in the  Pasta Fits campaign as a member of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network.  I was compensated for my time. 

Here’s a pic of what life’s  like at my house, organized chaos. If you look really closely in the left window, you will see who I’m trying not to trip over while carrying a plateful of food  (the reflection of one of my four legged friends). Life is good! I rely on simple meals and fashion staples to get through most days. pasta fits like your little black dressIn addition to sharing this crowd pleasing  recipe, here are 5 reasons why I believe pasta is the culinary equivalent to your little black dress (LBD):

1.Pasta  fits any meal and every occassion, just like that  little black dress you pay homage to. Whatever ‘s necessary at the moment, think pasta. Over the years, I have made pasta to feed a myriad of individuals and groups including: toddlers, college co-eds,  men, women, vegans, carnivores, Democrats, Republicans, high school and college wrestlers, women golfers, and professional soccer players.  Most of my meals are  super casual, but just like that LDB, you can go as elaborate as your heart desires.

2. Pasta fits a busy lifestyle because it’s practical. Simple is good, right? That’s why you’re mad for your  LBD, and why you’ll be smitten with using pasta to  partner with other nutritious foods to make satisfying meals meals in minutes. No complicated instructions, or hard to find ingredients, ever. Heck, you can keep pasta in the pantry and fix it whenever you like. It  doesn’t matter what you have on hand, it’s versatile and will pair with almost anything! Tip: Always check your refrigerator first for any leftovers.

3. Pasta fits into your budget. You were smart when you picked up that LBD off the clearance rack, so why  would you fork over cash for overpriced staples? Pasta is inexpensive and using it as a base for  vegetables and protein makes an easy weeknight meal so you can avoid pricey ( and yes, often high calorie) take out.

4. Pasta fits your healthy diet and keeps you feeling good. Confidence not only comes from putting your best foot forward in your LBD, but feeling energetic and able to concentrate. Pasta is a complex carbohydrate, important for fueling your muscles and brain. It keeps  you feeling full and provides steady energy. Inadequate consumption of carbohydrates  makes you sluggish, not confident. More bad news if your energy levels crash, you won’t feel like exercising. Now are you starting to see how restricting carbs can backfire?

5. Pasta fits your desire to remain hip and stylish. Pasta, just like that LBD, is classic and will n-e-v-e-r  go out of style. Pasta meals have stood the test of time.  Nowadays there are even more versions of our favorite classic pasta dishes. In celebration of National Pasta Month,  I’m putting my own twist on a popular pasta recipe. For more pasta love, you’ll want to visit the the sites of these bloggers who are also participating in the #pastafits campaign :

Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

Amanda@The Wholesome Dish

Melanie @Nutritious Eats

Alexis @Hummusapien

Kylie @Yeah, ImmaEatThat

Alex @Delicious Knowledge

Sally @Real Mom Nutrition

Meme @Living Well Kitchen

Min @The Adventures of MJ & Hungryman

Rachael @An Avocado A Day Nutrition

Katie @Mom to Mom Nutrition

Anne @Craving Something Healthy

Now, let me share my recipe for a warm pasta salad, with seasonal ingredients.

pasta fits like your little black dressMy inspiration comes from a food that’s already light and fit: minestrone. This traditional Italian soup made with pasta, tomatoes and beans gets an autumal tweak with  butternut squash and is served up on a bed of  spinach and leafy greens with a warm balsamic vinaigrette.  The salad pictured is vegetarian and about 340 calories per serving and a whopping 7 grams of dietary fiber! Feel free to try a variation depending on your occasion. I think football fans would go hard for the version  with  sauteed ham, or  pepperoni.  Bring on the tailgating crowd!

For more #pastafits inspiration check out this website and follow on  social media:  FacebookTwitter, and  Pinterest.

 Warm Minestrone Pasta Salad

 

Warm Minestrone Pasta Salad (serves 6)

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 1/2 butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 pound uncooked ditalini
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2.5 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves or other greens
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tomatoes cut into  wedges

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread squash onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for about 30 minutes until vegetable is tender and begins to brown.

2. Meanwhile, cook ditalini according to package instructions until al dente. Drain. Refresh under cold running water, drain again. Place pasta in a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add beans, onion, carrot, celery and roasted squash.

3. In a small skillet over med -low heat add remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and garlic. Heat until garlic begins to tenderize. Whisk together sugar red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and slowly add to hot oil. Simmer 2-3 minutes.

4. Pour contents of skillet over pasta mixture. Toss well. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with tomato wedges.  Serve warm.

VARIATION: Make this salad heartier with the addition of 1 cup of diced and sauteed ham, pepperoni or salami.

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Fusilli with Broccoli & Peanuts | #PastaFits

Fusilli with Broccoli & Peanuts is just one example of the myriad of ways pasta fits into a busy lifestyle by providing a means to quick, wholesome and affordable  meals that are pleasing to the palate.Fusilli with Broccoli & Peanuts, #pastafits
Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the  Pasta Fits campaign as a member of Healthy Aperture Blogger Network.  I was compensated for my time. 

Aah, summer. It’s hard to say goodbye to the beach, pool parties and lazy days.. The school year is a slew of schedules and the best way to navigate the hectic  mornings, homework assignments, activities and rounds of sports is organization. Preparing for back to school  should include a plan for meals and snacks. Easing  back into a routine of healthy eating after  the summer doesn’t have to be difficult. Keep it simple by focusing on  foods that:

• provide sustained energy

• are quick and wholesome

• are  affordable

• please every palate on every occasion

Pasta  fits the above criteria making it a smart choice for meals during the school year! One serving of pasta of provides 7 grams of protein and about 200 calories of sustainable engery.  The start of a new school year is no time to be sluggish, tired and unable to concentrate. Complex carbohydrates, like a pasta, provide the optimum type of fuel to power your muscles and brain. A slower release of energy keeps both you and your kids going throughtout the day .

Pasta  can be the start of  wholesome meals  that can be assembled  in minutes. It pairs well with   protein rich foods ( like lean meat, seafood, nuts and legumes),  nutrient dense vegetables and heart healthy fats.

Pasta is one of the most affordable meals. Keeping pasta on hand  elimates the need for pricey takeout.

Pasta is versatile; it can be eaten at any time of the day, and there infinite ways to add your own special culinary twitst. Today I combined it with broccoli, peanuts and a lemon honey dressing for a  terrific side or vegetarian meal ..Fusilli with Broccoli & Peanuts

and the leftovers are perfect to tote school or work.

 

Fusilli with Broccoli & Peanuts

This school year, make the grade with  pasta  for  quick, affordable,  nutritious and satifying meals!

Fusilli with Broccoli & Peanuts

serves 6

total prep/cooking time: 20 minutes

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. dry fusilli
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups broccoli flowerets
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts

Instructions

1. Cook  pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Toss with canola oil.

2. Blanch broccoli for one minute in boiling salted water. Refresh under cold running water and drain well.

3. Blend lemon juice, honey and seasonings (onion powder through salt). Combine pasta with the broccoli , lemon-honey mixture and seasonings. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Stir in peanuts just before serving. Serve cold or reheat in microwave.

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