Thursday, June 13, 2013

Italian Pasta and Tuna Salad

Italian Pasta and Tuna Salad

I don't think to make pasta salad very often.  On our recent vacation, I had salads with pasta and it got me to thinking I should do that more often.  On our trip, I had a mayonnaise's based salad with orzo pasta, cheese, and peas... very good but very rich.  Sitting in the airport, waiting to catch a flight, I had a pre-packaged salad with greens, diced chicken, balsamic vinaigrette, tomatoes, and cooked tri-colored rotini pasta. Some how I just need some carbs on my green salad.  Despite eating salad on vacation, we all packed on some pounds in a week's time. When I went grocery shopping I tried to think of healthy, lighter recipes.  I came up with this recipe.  I had a coupon for Ronzoni pasta so I used the Ronzoni Tri-colored Rotini, which I think looks attractive in a pasta salad

4 ounces of rotini pasta, cooked according to package instructions, rinse in cold water
1 five ounce can of tuna
1/4 of a cucumber (I used an English cucumber and left the skin on), coarsely choped
1/4 of a small red/purple onion, coarsely chopped
1 (about 3/4 to 1 cup) big handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half if large
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing (I used Wishbone Brand Zesty Italian)
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook the pasta according to package instructions (with a pinch or two of salt in the water).  Rincse under cold water, drain; set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, break up the tuna into small bite sized bits.  Add in the chopped cucumber, onion, and tomatoes.  Add in the pasta and salad dressing and gently fold ingredients to combine and coat with dressing.  Season with a little salt and pepper if desired.  Makes 4 servings. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Calorie saving tip: We buy large bottles of Wishbone brand Zesty Italian salad dressing at Sam's Club. When we open a new bottle, we actually pour off a LOT of the oil.  This saves us quite a lot on calories but also makes the dressing intensely flavorful.   In this recipe I tried to use only 2 tablespoons of salad dressing but after I had refrigerated the salad, I added a bit more dressing to each serving. Seems like the dressing sort of soaks into the pasta as the dish sits.
This recipe would also be really good with diced, cooked chicken.

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