This might be just about the best pasta salad you make all summer.
Mind you, it’s hard to think of a pasta salad that I’ve met that I haven’t liked… but this honestly is up there at the top of the list.
And, it’s only 121 calories (3 ww points+) per cup / 150 g, amazing!
It was inspired by the start of a glut of random vegetables from our allotment garden.
I used my Actifry™ 2 in 1 (both bottom pan and top grill tray) to do all the hard work; a basket-type air fryer will work equally well.
I wanted to play with mixing fresh and roasted veg, while keeping the veg in big chunks, and match that with large toothsome pasta, and, all the while, keeping it as light and lively as I could (always a challenge when you mix a boatload of carbs with a boatload of liquid fat — i.e. “healthy” oil.)
I had a bowl of roasted veg that I’d roasted the night before in my air fryer: eggplant, zucchini, and tomato chunks, all from the allotment garden. I just let the air fryer do the work while I watched Netflix on my computer. Read here about using your air fryer as a sous-chef (opens in separate window.)
Also from the allotment, there were bell peppers, and a wrath of random, mystery variety cherry tomatoes. The basil you see is doing well in a clay terra cotta Roman window box out on the front verandah; for the pasta I had been thinking large shells, but instead I used cavatappi (aka scoobi doo) pasta so that it would wrap itself around the large chunks of veg. And, to dodge the whole issue of the gallons of olive oil it would take to make this salad taste interesting, I decided to use fat-free Italian dressing out of the fridge.
So that’s what I started with.
Above you see the ingredients heaped on top of the cooked pasta. It didn’t take long to seed and chop the two bell peppers, chop up some basil, and slice up the cherry tomatoes.
Use whatever pasta you want / have to hand (though probably a shaped pasta is better than spaghetti!) and cook according to package directions.
I cooked mine in 4 minutes in the pressure cooker; I learned from Laura Pazzaglia the technique of pressure cooking perfect al dente pasta and have never looked back.
Okay, I’ve thought of something else already. I want parm in this, since I know I’m gonna be having huge calorie and fat savings by using the fat-free Italian dressing, and what with parmesan cheese being a skim-milk cheese, it is a cheese you can use in relative abundance. So I’ve just added some grated parm.
Except I did a quick cheat, which is going to have half the foodies reading this diving for the X to slam this window shut:
I just used some of this parm in a bag that you can get from Costco here. Yes, I know it’s not the real stuff which is kept in bank vaults in Parma as collateral. But, it’s really good and really cheap; I keep a bag of it in the freezer at all times for cooking cheats. It’s always moist and fresh with great taste, nothing like the dried sawdust that comes in the green shakies.
Anyway, you can use the real stuff, freshly-grated.
And with no further do, I added some salt (I used a salt sub, Herbamare), the fat-free Italian dressing, and just mixed it all up with my bare hands, and we’re done here.
Finally, here’s the recipe. (I don’t blame you if you skipped all that chatter.)
Serving size: 1 cup / 150 g
- 3 small eggplants
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 medium-size zucchini (aka courgette)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 medium tomatoes, cut in eighths
- 4 cups (300 g) of a shaped, large pasta, uncooked (8 cups / 900 g cooked)
- 2 bell peppers (any colour)
- 1 cup (175 g) sliced cherry tomatoes (or tomatoes cut into small chunks)
- 2 teaspoon salt substitute (or reg. salt)
- 8 tablespoon grated parmesan
- ½ cup fat free Italian dressing
- few leaves of fresh basil
- Wash eggplant, slice off and discard green end. Do not peel. Slice the eggplant into 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick rounds. If using a paddle-type air fryer such as an Actifry™, put in pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. If using a basket-type such as an AirFryer™, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and put in basket. Cook for about 40 minutes until quite soft and no raw taste left. Set aside.
- Wash zucchini / courgette, slice off and discard green end. Do not peel. Slice into 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick rounds. If using a paddle-type air fryer such as an Actifry™, put in pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. If using a basket-type such as an AirFryer™, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and put in basket. Cook for about 25 minutes until quite soft and no raw taste left. Set aside.
- Wash and chunk the tomatoes. If using an Actifry 2 in 1, arrange in top grill pan. If using a basket-type air fryer, arrange in basket. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Roast for about 30 minutes until reduced in size and starting to brown. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to pasta directions, empty into colander, run cold water over it to wash some starch off, drain, set aside to cool.
- Wash, seed and chop the bell pepper; put into a large bowl. Wash and slice the cherry tomatoes (or small-chunk the regular tomato); add to that bowl. Add the roast veggies, the pasta, the salt, the dressing, the chopped basil, and the parm and toss all with your (clean) hands to mix well.
- Set in fridge to chill and marinate.
- Serve chilled or room temperature.
You can assemble all this a day ahead of time: it's one of those salads that is best let stand in fridge for a while ahead, anyway.
Feel free to improvise with whatever veggies you want, there is nothing sacred about the veggies I suggested here, it's just what needed using up!
Note that the first three steps don’t require much from you at all aside from washing and slicing veg and slinging them at the machine.
Makes 2.5 kg (16 cups) in total.
There are a total of 55 Weight Watchers PointsPlus® points in the recipe. Divided by 16, that’s 16 x 1 cup (150 g) servings at 3Weight Watchers PointsPlus® (121 calories) per serving.
If you use actual salt salt, the sodium levels of course go up.
* Nutrition info provided by http://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by hotairfrying.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
* Actifry™ is a registered trademark of SEB, France.
* Airfryer™ is a registered trademark of Koninklijke Philips N.V.