Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Healthy lunchbox pasta salads

on December 15, 2010

I love these salads and they’re really simple to make.  The artichoke one in particular does  require some cooking though, so I recommend you do it the night before and put it in the fridge to take to work the next day, but having said that, I’ve done it in the morning – you just have to be a little bit organised.  But it’s really healthy, so tasty, and a really great way to cheer yourself up at work.

You do need some artichoke hearts or artichokes in a jar – I try to pick up a few jars whenever I go to aldi.  Their jars of antipasti are brilliant, cheap and great store cupboard items.  I also get their bottled sundried tomatoes and roasted peppers.  And the sundried tomatoes are great for the tomato and olive pasta dish.  The original recipe calls for black olives but I prefer green ones, and usually buy them in Aldis too – but the fresh ones rather than the marinated ones! And of course you can get your vinegars from aldi too, they do great ones, and they last ages so just buy the bottles and stick in your cupboard to use as needed.

The original tomato and olive pasta recipe has capers and anchovies in it, but I don’t like either and so have left them out, however, if you do like them it might be worth adding them as it would give it a stronger flavour.

I had run out of broccoli when I made the artichoke pasta salad this time, so I left it out, but I have used it previously and would recommend the brocolli if you have it.  So I’ve included it in the recipe.  I also didn’t have any olives, so I put some cherry tomatoes in, instead, chopped in half.  But I’ve put the olives in the recipe below – basically – as I always say, just adapt the recipes to what you happen to have in the fridge and cupboard at the time!

Of course, there’s no need to reserve these just for lunch at work – they make great bbq salads or party salads.  The first time I made the olive and tomato one was for a Christmas party a few years ago and everyone commented on how great they thought it was.  And of course, they are both vegetarian – vegan actually – so great for veges or when you have vege guests coming over.

Artichoke pasta salad

Serves 2

150g pasta shapes, like penne or fusili

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

1 garlic clove finely chopped

1 onion finely sliced

1 red pepper finely sliced

100g broccoli florets

1/2 jar of artichokes or artichoke hearts

handful of seedless olives

chopped fresh basil (or parsley, or whatever you have)

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.  About 3-5 minutes before it’s done, chuck in the broccoli florets to cook, and then drain both of them together, run under cold water until cold and set aside until needed.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a low heat.  Cook the onion, pepper and garlic together slowly until softened but not browned, for about 10 minutes.  Add the vinegar, salt and pepper to the mixture stir and then remove from the heat.
  3. Drain your artichokes (maybe reserve a bit of the oil that they’re in (about a tablespoon) and slice thinly.  If using hearts only, no need to chop.  Chop your olives in half as well.
  4. Add your pasta and broccoli to the pepper mix and stir together thoroughly so that the pasta is fully coated in the mixture.
  5. Then add the olives, artichokes and basil to the pasta mix and mix again well.  If it’s a bit dry add the reserved oil.
  6. Set the salad aside for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to infuse.
  7. Take to work, and enjoy infront of your colleagues, just to annoy them!

Tomato and olive pasta salad

Serves 2

150g pasta shapes such as fusili or penne

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper

10 sundried tomatoes, drained and finely sliced (also good with sunblush tomatoes)

handful of olives chopped

jandful of chopped fresh basil and parsley (I have used just parsley before, but the basil does give it a nice flavour)

  1. Boil the pasta according to the packet instructions.  Drain, run under cold water until cooled and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar, then add the garlic, whisk again and then add salt and pepper.
  3. Add the tomatoes and olives to the dressing and mix well, then add the fresh herbs and mix again before adding the pasta and giving it all a good mix.
  4. Allow the salad to sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavours to infuse.
  5. Eat with smugness at your own culinary genius.
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