In terms of a filling, fun, easy-to-manage snack, pasta salad is tough to beat in the summertime or anytime.
Equally versatile as a side dish, healthy pasta salads are relatively simple to construct. They can be prepared ahead and served hot or cold. They’re backpack-friendly for transport to school. And they can be tailored to suit your crowd with vegetables and proteins like chicken, shrimp, or cold cuts.
If there’s any downside, it’s that these salads often come with decidedly grown-up tastes. Colorful as pasta salads may be, kids with a sweet tooth often won’t fancy olives or onions or artichoke hearts.
So, K12’s Learning Liftoff went looking for pasta salads that kids will love. A little research turned up three recipes on Grandparents.com: A “Funky Chicken” salad, “a Little Ladybug” salad (utilizing cherry tomatoes as the primary characters), and a “Totem Pole Tortellini” that is actually a fun, pasta-on-a-skewer dish.
This video from Giant Eagle food markets highlights a colorful, easy-to-make tortellini salad as well as a way a young cook might be inclined to help out in the kitchen. It’s a nice introduction to cooking for the kindergarten set—only 2 minutes, 17 seconds to watch and with a pasta salad that’s just 300 calories per serving.
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EatingWell.com offers pasta salad recipes and four suggestions for making them all healthy: 1) Consider replacing regular mayonnaise with a mixture of the reduced-fat mayo, low-fat yogurt and a splash of olive oil cut down the calories and saturated-fat content; 2) use whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta for additional fiber; 3) increase the proportion of fresh veggies such as tomatoes, carrots, and peppers; 4) utilize fresh basil to pump up the flavor without adding sodium or fat.
For some more grown-up pasta salad recipes, check out Better Homes and Gardens online. We liked the cilantro-lime pasta salad for its simplicity (don’t be afraid to substitute ready-to-eat grilled chicken strips instead of spending time at the grill) as well as the Greek garden pasta salad with veggies and yogurt (98 calories per serving).
Featured Image: Flickr-Maria / CC by 2.0