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Cooking For A Crowd? Try Zesty Five Bean And Pasta Salad
When it comes to picnic and barbeque classics, pasta salad and bean salad are always at the top of the list. So why not put them together into one big, crowd-pleasing combo that’s fast and easy to make, full of taste-tempting color, and as nutritious as it is delicious?
This recipe for Zesty Five Bean And Pasta Salad is perfect for any summer meal, indoors or out. Its zingy flavors are the perfect compliment to grilled meats, and because the dressing is not mayonnaise-based, it stands up well to high summer temperatures. It’s perfect for busy cooks because it actually tastes best if made in advance and refrigerated at least overnight – this allows the flavors to blend and permeate, making every bite scrumptious!
But taste, texture, and picture-book prettiness are only part of what makes this salad a winner. It’s also very low in fat, calories, and sodium, which makes it fit into just about any healthy diet. Another big plus: thanks to the beans and whole wheat pasta, it’s brimming with good nutrition. Both beans and whole wheat pasta are very high in fiber, which is crucial to good health; it promotes healthy digestion, keeps you feeling full and satisfied longer, and has been proven to be beneficial to a number of diseases and conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure or hypertension, and arthritis to name just a few.
This recipe makes a very large salad – more than two dozen servings, which is easily enough to feed a hungry crowd. This makes it a great choice for parties, reunions, potlucks, or any group meal. But no need to save this healthy, easy treat for special occasions! The ingredients and proportions are very flexible, so just use your own taste to trim the list.
For example, to make a family-sized salad use a half box of pasta, two cans of beans (for example, cut green beans and red kidney beans), and halve the remaining ingredients.
Zesty Five Bean & Pasta Salad
- 1 box whole wheat rotini pasta
- 2 cups plus 3/4 cup of fat free Italian Dressing
- 1 can of cut green beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans) drained & rinsed
- 1 can of cut yellow beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 can of red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed
- 3 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
- dash of Tabasco or hot sauce to taste (optional)
- dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 1 cup black and/or green olives, sliced (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, being sure not to overcook.
- Drain and rinse in cold water, then combine with beans, vegetables, and Tabasco and/or pepper flakes if desired in very large bowl and toss to mix well.
- NOTE: if you don’t have a bowl large enough, a plastic dishpan works well for this step!!
- After mixing, refrigerate in tightly covered containers for several hours or overnight.
- Before serving, toss well and add the remaining 3/4 cup of dressing.
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