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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A feel-good Mediterranean salad

 •  Steamed delight

By Elaine Magee

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A dollop of sun-dried tomato sour cream or Greek yogurt tops a salad of whole-grain fusilli with peppers, olives, artichoke hearts and more.

Elaine Magee

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Q. I had the most interesting pasta salad at a Mediterranean deli with bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and capers, but it was dripping in oil too rich for my wife and me. Can you conjure up a light rendition please?

A. I love the sound of this pasta salad so many flavorful and colorful Mediterranean ingredients. I believe in using whole grains every chance I get, so the base of this pasta salad will be a whole wheat or whole grain blend type of pasta. There are some great pasta products out there now so you'll probably have no problem finding a brand that you like.

To keep this pasta salad light, I used a light balsamic vinaigrette, with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil per serving. This gave the salad just enough oil to flavor and coat the ingredients but not too much to feel heavy. A splash of balsamic and champagne vinegar makes up the rest of the dressing and some fresh basil and parsley add flavor and color.

The same size serving (1 1/2 cups) of mayonnaise-dressed pasta salad contains around 650 calories, 38 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat and 34 mg cholesterol.


  • 4 cups cooked whole wheat blend pasta or whole-wheat pasta, rinsed and drained (penne, fusilli or farfalle shapes work well)

  • 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers

  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion

  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomato (drained if from a jar)

  • 1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts, from frozen (drained if from a jar or can)

  • 2 tablespoons sliced pitted kalamata olives

  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained

    For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons champagne or red wine vinegar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (add more to taste if desired)

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

    For the garnish (optional):

  • 1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomato (drained if from a jar)

  • 3 tablespoons fat-free or light sour cream or Greek plain yogurt

    In large serving bowl, combine salad ingredients (pasta, bell peppers, red onion, sun-dried tomato, artichoke hearts, olives and capers). In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients with whisk.

    Drizzle dressing over the pasta salad and toss to blend. Serve immediately or keep covered in refrigerator until ready to serve.

    For an optional garnish, in a small food processor, combine a tablespoon of chopped sun-dried tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Garnish each serving with a small dollop if desired.

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving: 282 calories, 9 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6 g monounsaturated fat, 1.1 g polyunsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 440 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 25 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids = .1 g, Omega-6 fatty acids = 1 g. Weight Watchers POINTS = 5