Pretty in Pink Pasta Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese

For the past month, I've been been getting back on track with my health. Two things needed to happen:

  1. I needed to get back to regular workouts, and
  2. I needed to start eating better.

The problem wasn't that I didn't know how to eat more nutritiously. The problem was it was just easier to slack and eat crappy food that did nothing for me. Hello, potato chips! Worse than that, I was going overboard on my portions. So now, I measure everything before it actually goes on my plate.

I've had to come up with some fun combinations of food to keep me motivated, because we eat with our eyes, as much as with our mouths. Seeing boring food bores me. I've been playing around with various food items, using them in ways they aren't normally consumed.  One of my favorite new dishes was inspired by the season. Our local area is experiencing a bountiful strawberries season (Big, juicy, red strawberries EVERYWHERE!), so I get some delicious berries at my local farms right now.

The dish is also inspired by my need for more fiber in my diet. To fill that need, I used Barilla Whole Grain Shell Pasta. Made with 100% whole wheat, and with 6 g. of whole grain in each serving, it's an excellent source of fiber. (Side Note: Barilla Gluten Free pasta has recently been named one of Parents Magazine’s “Top 25 Allergy Free Foods”. It really is better for you.)

At a recent dinner, I had strawberry vinaigrette on a kale salad and thought it would be a perfect topping for pasta. What hadn't occurred to me was that the pasta would look slightly pink, once I tossed it in the vinaigrette.

To make the Strawberry Vinaigrette, I used:

  • 10 fresh strawberries, washed and stemmed
  • 1/4 c. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 c. Vinaigrette

Using a hand blender, I blended all three until it started to foam up a little.

While I was making the vinaigrette, the Whole Grain Pasta boiled (only needs about 7 minutes to be fully cooked). Since it's a cold side dish, I rinsed the pasta out in a colander with cold water. While that was cooling, I started to get the toppings ready. I pulled out:

  • 2 Additional Strawberries
  • 2-3 Basil Leaves
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • Himalayan Sea Salt

 I diced the strawberries, chopped up the basil, and picked my crumbles of cheese out.

Once the pasta was cool, I blended the vinaigrette for another quick second and tossed the shells with it. Taking a 1/2 c. measuring scoop, I served the pasta onto the plate, then sprinkled the toppings on, and gave it a quick crack of pink sea salt from my grinder.

Voila!

pretty in pink pasta salad with strawberries and goat cheese

This pasta dish is so pretty in pink! And, it's the perfect blend of sweet and savory.

If you're running out of ideas for serving up pasta, check out the recipe page at Barilla or their Pinterest board for inspiration.

OH! And right now, you can get $1 off Barilla pastas, sauces, and Wasa Crisp at Walmart, too!

ENJOY!

Sweet Strawberries

Hi. I'm not home right now. I'm busy enjoying a road trip up North. I'm in Monterey right now as a guest of the California Strawberry Commission. Living along the coast of California, strawberries are special to me. So when I was asked to come on this trip, I jumped at the chance. This evening we were treated to an amazing menu that included strawberries in every course. This was the coup de grace: Tomorrow, I'll be on a tour with four other bloggers from different U.S. regions to learn about the process of bringing California strawberries from the farm to the table. Participants will tour a strawberry farm and cooler, hear about the nutritional benefits of strawberries  and learn tips on how to incorporate this favorite superfruit into your family’s every day diet.

Follow the #CAStrawberryTour conversation on Twitter tomorrow as the other Strawberry Girls and I slop through muddy fields and learn all there is to know about strawberries. Who are the other ladies?

PS: The California Strawberry Commission is currently giving away a recipe book a day through the end of May. Go check out the details on their Facebook page: Facebook.com/CAStrawberries