Party Pasta

Last weekend I turned 30 (old lady now…) so we thought we would do a beach party on Saturday to celebrate. So of course I wanted to make some nutritious and delicious food to bring so I had to think of something I could keep cold in a cooler and that would be refreshing and not too messy or complicated. Pasta salad seemed to be an easy solution. I used whole grains (good carbs for sustained energy and fiber), olive oil (good fat, anti-inflammatory properties), and fresh veggies (lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals). I was able to keep it in a large aluminum tray in the cooler and it did stay cool until we were ready to eat. I also made a fruit salad to bring because it is super easy to just chop up some melons, grapes and strawberries….and who doesn’t love cool, fresh fruit on a hot day? Plus…it is good for you. My pasta salad turned out really delicious and can feed about 16-20 people so keep that in mind when you see the large amounts of ingredients.

Ingredients:

32 oz Dry Whole Grain Pasta

2 Large Sweet Potatoes

1 Head of Broccoli

4 Large Tomatoes

1- Fresh 8 oz Bag of Baby Spinach

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3/4 Cup Champagne Vinegar

Juice from 2 Lemons

1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Sugar

Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot. While pasta is cooking, clean off sweet potatoes and poke several holes through the skin with a fork. Microwave on high for 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked through. Rinse broccoli and tomatoes and start chopping into pieces while sweet potatoes and pasta are cooking. Remove sweet potatoes (be careful they will be very hot) and let cool. Put chopped broccoli in the microwave on a microwave safe plate on high for 2 minutes, if you are like me and prefer your broccoli to be slightly cooked but still firm and crunchy. If you prefer it raw you can skip that step. By now your pasta should be done cooking; drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking and add to your aluminum tray or serving dish. Add the bag of spinach to the warm pot you just removed the pasta from and put back on burner on low heat stirring occasionally to warm and wilt spinach until it shrinks to about half. Add warm spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes to pasta. If your sweet potatoes are cool enough, peel off the skin and chop into bite size squares. If they still feel hot please be patient and let them cool down more… you can get burned by hot potato steam. The potatoes should peel very easily with a knife now that they are cooked. Add the sweet potato pieces to the pasta mixture. Now you just need to make the dressing. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and sugar in a small bowl and pour over pasta. Mix well and add ground black pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat, can be made the day before.

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