D.C. is back to 100-degree days. It seems like this summer is much hotter than last, and I am avoiding warm food whenever possible. If you’re ever in the District, I highly recommend stopping by one of the many Sweetgreen locations if you are in need of something cool. Their salads are always delicious and fresh, and I love experimenting with their locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients and inventing new salads. The best part about Sweetgreen, however, may be the fact that you can treat yourself to some fat free froyo with fresh fruit after having a nutritious salad. It’s the perfect lunch during heat waves!
In my mother’s house, there is one pasta salad that everyone wants during the summer. Actually, I’d be pretty content to eat it year round, but my mom always makes it for us to take for lunch in the summer. It’s got everything you need: protein, carbs, a healthy dose of vegetables, plus fresh herbs and the zing of red wine vinaigrette. This has become a staple in my own kitchen, and I love knowing that I have leftovers of this salad in my fridge.
Once you chop your vegetables, this comes together very quickly. You can either make your own vinaigrette (2 parts red wine vinegar to 1 part olive oil, a dash of lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste) or use a store bought one (my mother swears by the one made by Wishbone). Try serving it over a bed of baby spinach leaves to get in an extra serving of vegetables. Happy eating!
- 1½ cups rotini (I prefer using the tri-color variety)
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 1 green onion, chopped
- ½-1 cup baby carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1½ stalks celery, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup fresh parsley, stems removed and chopped
- 1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 2-3 oz each of two hard or semi-soft cheeses, cut into ¼-inch cubes (I use cheddar and mozzarella or gouda and havarti)
- Red wine vinaigrette
- First, cook your pasta. After draining, quickly run under cold water. Set aside
- In a large mixing bowl, combine your chopped vegetables, beans, and cheese. Mix well
- Add in your pasta and toss
- Add vinaigrette to taste. This much salad normally takes ¼ cup of dressing
- Chill before serving
Serves four to six.