In about 2 weeks, I will be heading back to school to complete the last few classes I need to apply for my master’s program. As time is of the essence, I’m on the hunt for recipes that are quick, easy, and nutrient dense. If you can relate, then I think you will appreciate this recipe because it takes under 30 minutes to make, is loaded with a variety of nutrients, and won’t break the bank. The recipe I will be sharing with you is my gluten-free lemon basil pasta salad.
Just the other day when I was brainstorming recipe ideas, I thought of a pasta salad I once had at the Nordstrom cafe that was so good that I still think about it today. I remember loving the taste of the fresh basil in combination with the slightly sweet cherry tomatoes, & the tangy lemon vinaigrette. It included pieces of feta cheese and chicken as well but what stood out the most to me was the vinaigrette. I figured that if I could recreate the vinaigrette then pretty much anything could be added into the pasta salad. So that’s exactly what I did. Instead of using the traditional pasta that is made of semolina flour I used a gluten-free alternative made of chickpeas. Now before you run away, let me just say that these taste better than you think.
Why It’s Healthier
The brand of the pasta I used is called Banza and it is my favorite gluten-free pasta. Many gluten-free kinds of pasta become mushy after boiling but Banza’s pasta is not like that at all. The texture is almost identical to that of traditional pasta but with the added benefit of 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving. The combination of fiber and protein not only makes this a healthier choice but also much more filling & satisfying. Fiber helps to satiate your taste buds which means it helps to make you feel full. Fiber fills our stomach up which ultimately helps to moderate portions. Along with changing out the pasta, I also decided to add in some green peas for an extra serving of protein as well as Vitamins A & C. Another tweak I made to the Nordstrom cafe version was in limiting the amount of feta cheese used as well as olive oil.
This recipe is ideal for those on the go because it does not need to be heated up to enjoy. It works best as a cold pasta salad so if you don’t always have access to a microwave you don’t have to sweat it. It keeps well in the fridge and can be made in advance for easy access. So now that you know why you should incorporate it into your meal prep rotation, let’s get into the specifics of what you will need to make it happen.
◊ Serves 4 (or 2 really hungry people)
- 8 oz. Banza chickpea rotini pasta
- 1/2 cup cherry/grape tomatoes
- 1 cup green peas
- 1 cup cubed chicken (can also use rotisserie chicken)
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- fresh basil
Lemon basil vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- juice of 1 medium lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- Prepare the vinaigrette by combining olive oil, garlic, chopped basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F & bring a large pot of water to a boil
- Salt the water & cook pasta according to package directions (about 7-9 minutes, stirring frequently)
- Once the oven is ready, place the cherry tomatoes on baking sheet & season with salt & pepper. Bake for 10 minutes until slightly blistered
- Drain pasta & rinse with cold water. Set aside & allow to cool
- Throw all the remaining ingredients into the pasta, coat with the vinaigrette, and toss to combine. Serve immediately or cover & refrigerate for later.
I hope you give this recipe a shot because I truly think it is a great recipe for an easy lunch or dinner. It tastes so much more complex than it actually is and is made up of ingredients that are great for you and your body to provide you with maximum energy. The nutrients are plentiful and well-balanced to help keep you full and satisfied to get you through the day. If you try it out tag @lifeatthemesa on Instagram so I can see how it turns out for you! Thank you for your support and I will be back soon with another nutritious and delicious recipe.