Today’s quick and easy lunch, Marinated Vegetable Pasta Salad with Feta, just made me simply happy:) While it is quick and easy, it takes longer than my previous quick and easy lunch, Strawberry Spinach Salad. This lunch requires some chopping and ideally it’s best to eat it the very next day, though you could cheat a little if you are in a hurry. What I love about this is that it is chock full of vegetables. They get infused with an Italian dressing while retaining their crunch. What’s not to like?
This quick and easy lunch, Marinated Vegetable Pasta Salad with Feta, can be made in under 30 minutes!
Okay, so how is this a healthy lunch? For the marinade you need to use a lite or fat free Italian dressing. I used the Olive Garden Lite salad dressing. It was AMAZING!!!! For a fraction of the fat and calories it is a win win! Another way to make it healthy is to add LOTS and LOTS of vegetables. This marinated vegetable pasta salad has carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes (tri-color), zucchini, broccoli, red onion, celery, orange bell pepper, cucumber, and cauliflower. It is packed with goodness and is a great way to use up your veggies.
For the pasta, I used a tri-colored spiral pasta. For maximum health, I would have preferred to use a 100% whole wheat pasta, but I used what I had on hand and it’s okay. To add a richness in flavor, I sprinkled my quick and easy lunch with some crumbled feta cheese.
For a healthier option, decrease the amount of Italian Dressing or use a fat-free dressing.
I opted to use 1/2 of the bottle of the Lite Olive Garden Italian Dressing (roughly 8 oz.). If I had purchased a fat free dressing I would have used the entire bottle. Using 8 oz. makes it a tad drier, but the cheese and veggies made up for it so I was okay. You can always add more Italian dressing until you reach your desired consistency and fat content.
The trick to making the Marinated Vegetable Pasta Salad quick and easy is to multi-task.
In order to optimize your time, you are going to have to multi-task. While you are heating up the water to cook your pasta, wash your veggies and start chopping. While the pasta is cooking, continue to chop. I removed my pasta from the hot water and let is sit for a minute to cool off while I finished chopping everything else up. When you are done chopping, mix everything into a large glass bowl and put it in the fridge overnight. (This is the not-so-quick-and-easy part but it makes lunch the next day a breeze!) If you are impatient you can try to eat it right away, but it will taste loads better if you let it marinate overnight. I like sprinkling my feta cheese on right before eating, but you can also add it in the night before. Want less fat? Add less feta cheese or substitute with a fat-free Italian Dressing. That’s it! Simple, right? Here’s the recipe! Enjoy:)
- 1 bag (1.1 lb.) of spiral pasta, cooked according to package directions
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- ½ head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- ½ large red onion, chopped
- 4-6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 8 T feta cheese, crumbled
- 8 oz. lite Olive Garden Italian Dressing
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, wash and chop all vegetables.
- Drain cooked pasta and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- In a large glass bowl, mix together pasta and chopped vegetables.
- Pour 8 oz (add more or less as desired) of the lite Olive Garden Italian dressing over the pasta and vegetable mixture.
- Stir to coat evenly.
- Put in the fridge overnight (at least 4 hours) to marinate.
- Add feta cheese just before serving and stir together. Add more dressing, as desired, just before serving for added moisture.
- Serve cold and enjoy!