I have always been a fan of Italian antipastos. Every time I walk in to the grocery store with an olive bar, I cannot pass it by without loading a few containers with salty cured olives, artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, beans and pickled vegetables. There is something addictive in their briny, salty, acidic bright flavors that keep you craving for more. It is so easy to throw a couple of different antipastos on a green salad for a quick meal, or enjoy them on its own with an occasional glass of wine...
Get the recipe here.
Paring antipastos with pasta in this recipe seemed like a good idea, because, let's face it, sometimes you just want some carbs. I personally love pasta salads, but usually you have to eat them right away, because often times they contain fresh vegetables like tomatoes or spinach. This version can be prepared ahead of time and will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days without getting soggy or wilted, which makes it a great dish for picnics and other occasions when you need to make something in advance.
Short, curly pasta is the best shape to use for this salad, as its curves hold on to the salad’s other components, making for a more cohesive dish. I prefer 100% brown rice fusilli, as it's the closest in taste and texture to its wheat counterpart. You have to watch the time when cooking gluten-free pasta - about 7-10 minutes for al-dente - or may be a minute longer, otherwise it will turn into a sticky mess if overcooked. You also have to rinse it well with hot water after draining. Brown rice has a lot of starches, and if not rinsed, will make your noodles stick together. For well-seasoned salad, we tossed the hot fusilli with the dressing - it absorbs dressing better than cold pasta.
Mushrooms don't need to be marinated. Sauteing mushrooms with some dressing saturates them with flavor achieving the same effect. Now the fun part - antipastos! I added all my favorites ones: Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and peperoncini, but you can also add sun-dried tomatoes, assorted olives, pickled red onions, the possibilities are endless. Make sure to drain your antipastos well before adding them in, though, because any extra juice can make your salad soggy.
And, finally, the cheese. I didn't want to omit cheese, because it adds some substance to the salad. I prefer Daiya Mozarella Style shredded cheese, but you can add any vegan cheese you like or skip it altogether, it's up to you. In any case, you will end up with a full-flavored and satisfying dish, which can be served as an appetizer or an entree and will not leave you feeling hungry.
Even though many people avoid brown rice due to the rising popularity of low-carb diets, I wouldn't scratch it from your foods list. The fiber in brown rice promotes fullness, helps lower cholesterol, moves waste through the digestive tract, and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Brown rice is highly nutritious, providing the body with a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Brown rice has a low glycemic index, meaning that it’s digested slower and has less of an impact on blood sugar. It is definitely a great transition food for those trying to switch to a plant-based diet, as it keeps you full and satisfied.
Whether you decide if it’s a healthy food to add to your diet or not, is up to you. Just remember that life is short and it's not about deprivations. Next time when you crave some pasta, toss this salad together and enjoy!
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Get the recipe here.
This recipe is
Refined Sugar Free
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