Simple to make and easy to tote, pasta salad seems to have been invented for picnics, potlucks and backyard barbecues. But typical versions consist of white pasta drowning, often tastelessly, in a heavy mayonnaise dressing.
Our challenge was to lighten the calorie load and boost flavor and nutrients in a classic pasta salad while keeping its creamy appeal. We started with a recipe featuring an aioli dressing (garlic mayonnaise) and bold Mediterranean flavors.
How we did it:
* Replacing regular mayonnaise with a mixture of the reduced-fat variety, low-fat yogurt and a splash of flavorful olive oil cut down the calories and saturated-fat content.
* We replaced regular white pasta with whole-wheat pasta to add fiber.
* We increased the proportion of colorful, crunchy vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and peppers and cut back on the pasta to allow for a generous serving size with significantly fewer calories.
* We also boosted the fresh basil. Herbs provide a terrific way to add vibrant flavor without upping the fat or sodium.
We were able to make a wonderful summer salad with just a fraction of the saturated fat and salt of the original. The nutritional analysis is impressive: the calories are reduced by almost half, the revised recipe has two-thirds less fat, much less sodium and double the fiber of the original—and our Garden Pasta Salad is still creamy and full of flavor.