Thursday, March 21, 2013

California Pasta Salad

The "California Pasta Salad" (page 91) is inspired by three California crops - avocados, walnuts, and Meyer lemons. If you aren't familiar with the Meyer lemon, this variety is somewhat milder and sweeter than most, and is favored for those times when you want all the lemony goodness but not so much of the tart. When I made this salad, we were staying in the Rio Grande Valley in deep South Texas, where the Meyer lemon is known as the Valley lemon. I don't know for sure if these are the same variety or not, but the Valley lemon is very sweet and mild, like the Meyer, so it worked perfectly well in this recipe. The recipe calls for penne pasta, which I like for the nice chewy texture. The other veggies include red bell pepper, carrot, green onions, and kalamata olives. The lemon juice is part of the dressing, which also calls for 1/3 cup olive oil. In case you're interested, 1/3 cup of olive oil packs a walloping 71 grams of fat and 630 calories. Even divided among 4 servings, that is a lot of fat and calories, especially when you take into consideration this salad also contains olives, walnuts, and avocados. The way I got around the olive oil was to add a cup of chopped fresh tomatoes instead. This not only provided moisture for the salad, it also added color and flavor, without an iota of fat. Fresh basil is added at the very last, a delicious touch. This is a fantastic salad, but one to reserve for special occasions if you are going easy on the high fat plant foods.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Use whole grain penne pasta, or some other variety of whole grain pasta if penne isn't available.
ü  Omit the olive oil and use fresh chopped tomatoes instead as dressing, along with the lemon juice.

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