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Feb 10, 2010 04:54 PM

need a low fat/calorie, dairy-free pasta recipe

I cooked up a bunch of whole wheat pasta shells for my toddler, which she turned her nose up at. So now I would like to make pasta salad out of it. Here are the problems:

-- My husband just started a weight loss study where he has to limit his calories and fat
-- I try not to eat dairy (but I'm not vegan; we both eat meat)

Does anyone have any great pasta recipes (preferably pasta salad since that's what I'm in the mood for) that meet these criteria? Obviously I need to add a lot of veggies or beans to the pasta to bring the calories per serving down, but I'm not sure what veggies to use in a pasta salad in February. (Not quite asparagus season, alas!)

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  1. why not add protein as well and turn it into a meal? (you can use a dairy alternative for the yogurt

    1. You can make a Greek Pasta salad with grape tomatoes, cucumber, onions, bell pepper, a few olives, some low-fat feta and with either a little olive oil or some low- or non-fat Greek salad dressing. Garnish with some fresh parsley or mint. You can use a variety of low-fat or non-fat salad dressings with different combos of herbs and veggies to create multiple variations (eg. an "Italian" pasta salad with low-fat Italian vinaigrette with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, a little parm...). I know you want to avoid dairy, but a little bit of feta or parmesan goes a long way. Add low-fat yogurt (Greek is great) or sour cream (or tofutti sour cream) for a creamy texture.
      For more healthy pasta salad ideas, check out this page:

      For a really yummy low-fat soup, try this Pasta E Fagioli recipe.

      3 Replies
      1. re: toveggiegirl

        I am all for cutting calories wherever possible, but IMHO, low-fate feta is not even worth its calories. It tastes so bland and terrible. Better to use a much smaller amount of the real stuff, or a little Parmesan for bite, instead. Yuck. I have some sitting unused and unloved in my fridge right now.

        1. re: ChristinaMason

          I totally agree with you! I too prefer to use less of the full-fat stuff, I was just trying to give the OP some low-cal options.

        2. re: toveggiegirl

          I am with you - I love to make a similar dish that is a Lemon Orzo with Chicken - I make a lemon vinaigrette with lemon juice, olive oil, shallots,lemon zest, a little dijon, capers, salt and pepper and yes, I'm afraid, low fat feta. (With all the wonderful full fat cheeses I love - I am not sure why this one is ok with me) You can put all kinds of veggies - i love roasted ones, and I cut up a roasted chicken from the store. Easy, light, and full of flavor.

        3. personally, i'd add a dash of olive oil, some seasoned rice wine vinegar, basil, oregano, chopped tomatoes, julienned sundried tomatoes (not in oil), and maybe a sprinkling of parmesan to finish.

          i've done a crab salad with crab, bell pepper, sweet corn, cucumber, celery, spring onions, cherry tomatoes, then dressed with a mixture of lemon juice, low-fat soy yogurt, and tomato pickle. it's also good with tuna if you don't like crab.

          or try chopped hard boiled egg whites, celery, tomato, green onion, mustard, parsley, cucumber, and a little low fat soy yogurt.

          you could even go as simply as roasted broccoli and cauliflower with roasted garlic and a schpritz of olive oil

          2 tb Country-style Dijon mustard
          Nutritional Yeast (instead of Parmesan), to taste
          1 tb Balsamic vinegar
          2 c Small cauliflower florets, cooked
          3/4 c Chopped tomato
          2 tb Chopped fresh parsley
          2 c Small broccoli florets, cooked
          1/3 c Minced shallots
          1/4 ts Pepper
          1 tb Olive oil
          2 Cloves garlic; minced
          ...mix it all up!

          1. The key will be to kick up the flavour, as pasta salad can be kind of bland if not done well.

            I'd go for a hearty vinagrette dressing. Take red wine vinegar, lemon juice, some garlic, a bit of soy sauce, fresh ground black pepper and some prepared mustard and whisk it with a bit of olive oil. You want it pretty pungent.

            For veggies - I'd go with celery, cucumber and tomato (halved cherry tomatoes work well), lightly cooked green beans or peas (frozen are great), red or green pepper, some finely sliced or diced onion, sliced mushrooms, baby corn, etc. Broccoli and Cauliflower work best if lightly cooked first, as do carrots.

            For protein, you could poach boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, chill them and dice them, or add a can of chickpeas.

            Toss everything with the dressing. I'd make it ahead, put it in a sealed container and shake periodically to let the dressing soak in a bit. If you have them, a handful of chopped fresh herbs are really good.

            1. Thanks for the ideas, everyone!