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Lunchbox pasta salad

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I like bringing my own lunch with me to work and school, and realised the other day that pasta salad is a good option. However, I never go beyond tomatoes/sundried tomatoes, basil and pesto. Any ideas for a good, tasty pasta salad that holds up well in a lunchbox? I also want to put something together for my boyfriend for when he does sport in the evening: something that curbs hunger and is light but filling, maybe with a little protein? Any ideas?

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  1. I take a basic vinegary homemade coleslaw and add a cup of cooked whole wheat elbow pasta to it-works nicely and I love the crunch.
    Mixed salad greens with chopped roasted beets, purple onion, some peas in a light dressing of your liking with tortellini
    Sometimes I just chop up some celery, carrots, fennel, cauliflower florets and snap peas with a yogurt dip with a small amt. of pasta salad
    Cooked medium shrimp and cocktail sauce, few leaves of crunchy lettuce is another protein
    Lettuce wraps with a veggie spread filling and forgo the pasta

    In addition to quick, easy and different I like to mix it up so I don't get bored.

    1. Antipasta salad! Cooked pasta of choice; cubed salami; cubed smoked mozzarella or cheese of choice; kidney beans; ceci or garbanzo beans; diced zucchini; chopped black and/or green olives; drained artichoke hearts; marinated mushrooms; roasted marinated red bell pepper; diced green pepper; Basil vinaigrette.
      Or you could go Mediterranean, with pasta again, sundried tomatoes, good black olives, diced cucumber, sliced red onion, chopped oregano, lemon/garlic dressing and a final of crumbled Feta cheese.
      My ex's mom used to make an odd sounding but really good pasta salad: elbow macaroni, kidney beans, chopped hard-cooked egg, and chopped bell pepper, tossed in a coleslaw-y dressing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        Yo mamachef...great suggestions. I was about to suggest cubes of cheese. Do you use roasted marinated red bells that you've prepared or are suggesting the stuff that comes in jars in a vinegar solution? I roast my own because I like to marinate them in olive oil without vinegar.

        1. re: mamachef

          I do the Mediterranean style pasta salad using Kalamata olives, halved grape tomatoes, etc. and add leftover rotisserie chicken to it. So good.

        2. I know it's not pasta, but I've been enjoying a lemon-herbed quinoa salad for lunch lately. I just chop up whatever vegetables are in the fridge (zucchinis, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc) and add it to some cooked quinoa. Then toss the whole thing with some fresh herbs (I like to use tarragon, parsley, and/or thyme), then drizzle with some olive oil and squeeze some lemon juice on top. I don't really have that many specifics since I just toss in whatever is in the fridge. You could probably add tofu or some shredded or diced chicken or other meat to get some protein in there.

          1. Chickpeas and sundried tomatos, optional feta.

            1. I sometimes do a caprese-inspired pasta salad -- it's entirely unseasonal, so keep it in mind for summer. Very simpled: pasta (usually penne for some reason), shredded basil, diced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes. Dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper, sometimes a little balsamic if I'm feeling fancy. It holds up well in the fridge, although the tomatoes tend to weep a bit. You could always keep them separately and add them as you eat the salad, though.

              A friend's mother used to make one with ditalini, canned tuna, cubed cheddar and red onion, dressed with sweet pickle juice (no oil). Sounds bizarre but is actually quite good.

              1. bake or broil a salmon filet and add to your pasta salad along with water chestnuts. it goes very well with the sundried tomatoes. you could add olives as well if you wish.

                1. Or you could add smoked salmon to your pasta, with some capers & chives or green onions and dress it with a creamy dill dressing. Celery, hardcooked eggs & red peppers optional...