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Protein packed Thai Pasta Salad is a better-for-you 20-minute dinner recipe. Full of fresh ingredients and a lightened dressing, this one is a keeper!
Who doesn't like pasta salads? Especially if it is packed with better-for-you ingredients, comes together in just a few minutes and is super easy to make! This recipe made with Mazola® Corn Oil is all that and more! A clinical study showed Mazola Corn Oil reduces cholesterol 2x more than extra virgin olive oil. To learn more about this claim, see Mazola.com.
September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month. I am celebrating the month with light and delicious pasta salad that is one of our favorite recipes. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do! It's possible to reduce saturated fats and cholesterol in your meals easily with simple swaps, such as substituting butter with Mazola Corn Oil.
What is a Pasta Salad?
The easiest way to describe any pasta salad would be a mix of cooked pasta, vegetables and a dressing of your choice. These are generally lighter than traditional pastas, as they are not laded with sauces, cream or cheese. They use fresh vegetables and can be made ahead.
Today's Thai Pasta salad is just like that. Combining pasta with a flavorful yet light dressing gives the pasta a characteristic flavor. The end result is moist, crunchy and does not feel dry at all.
What makes this Pasta Salad Better-For-You?
Traditional pastas and pasta salads are loved by our family. It is a great idea to swap up a few ingredients in the recipe and make it better-for-you. That is exactly what I do each time I make a pasta salad. Today, I have made these swaps to make the dish better-for-you.
First, I used lentil pasta in place of regular pasta. This fiber rich pasta is packed with protein, making it a great addition to the salad.
Next, this lighter version of pasta has fresh vegetables. No frozen vegetables and no meat. Everything is chopped right in the kitchen, keeping the salad super fresh.
And yes, I used Mazola Corn Oil instead of butter to make the dressing. Mazola Corn Oil is an all-purpose, cholesterol free cooking oil that is a smart heart-healthy* choice for your family. *See Mazola.com for more information on the relationship between corn oil and heart health. It has a variety of uses including baking, grilling, sautéing, stir frying, or mixing up a marinade or dressing.
With these swaps in place, the salad becomes a great addition to any party or weeknight dinner. Just whip up everything a few minutes before you are ready to serve and dig all forks in!
This pasta salad is made using red lentil penne. These are my personal favorites from all the lentil pastas, but chickpea pasta, black rice pasta, etc. will work great too. Pick the one that you like the best.
We love sauces and dressings made from peanut butter here. However, the same recipe can be made with almond butter or cashew butter too. The flavors for the dressing come from the butter, so pick your favorite here!
I love making my salads colorful. It almost feels like eating a rainbow. So I have all the colorful vegetables in there. However, if you dislike any of the vegetables like red cabbage, peppers or cucumber, swap that with something like scallions, steamed broccoli florets or corn.
Lastly, the toppings. I added cilantro and fried noodles here. But roasted peanuts, roasted sesame seeds or a sprinkle of seaweed adds a lot of crunch to the salad too. Pick and choose what you like!
The salad is versatile and it is super easy to mix and match ingredients to suit everyone's taste. Plus, the recipe comes together in under 30 minutes, making it a great weeknight dinner!
For the dressing
Peanut Butter 2 tbsp
Soy Sauce 1 tsp
Vinegar 1 tsp
Mazola Corn Oil ¼ cup
Chili Flakes ¼ tsp
Oregano ¼ tsp
Salt ¼ tsp
Black Pepper ¼ tsp
For the Pasta
Dry Red Lentil Pasta 2 cups
Diced Red Pepper ¼ cup
Diced Green Pepper ¼ cup
Diced Red Cabbage ½ cup
Diced Carrots ¼ cup
Diced Cucumber ½ cup
Salt 1 tsp
Cilantro to top
Fried noodles to top (optional)
Place a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, season with a teaspoon of salt and then add the red lentil pasta. Cook for 7-8 minutes (or as per package instructions), until the pasta is al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients under 'dressing'. Mix well and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together pasta and vegetables. Pour the sauce over and toss to combine. Top with cilantro and fried noodles and serve.
Note: If making the salad ahead of time, reserve some dressing. Refrigerate the pasta and serve topped with the reserved dressing, as the pasta tends to become dry in the refrigerator.