Fusilli is perfect for a salad because it’s bite sized and its twisty shape helps the seasoning cling to each forkful. Appropriately enough, the name of the versatile little pasta is derived from fuso, the Italian word for spindle. The best fusilli is made of hard durum wheat.
The red bell pepper adds a subtle sweetness and, along with the tomato, presents a nice splash of color. The addition of kalamata olives provides a hint of salty-sweet taste. Celebrated for their deep flavor, they are from the Kalamata region of Greece and are often referred to as Greek olives.
Avocado provides a creamy richness to the salad. It also offers a range of nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamins C, E and K and folate. Avocados are actually a member of the berry family and were called “alligator pears” by English living in Jamaica. Some believe this is because they were comparing the avocado skin to that of an alligator.
The lemon juice and olive oil make the perfect dressing, giving the salad a fresh, clean taste. So prepare some extra because it makes a great leftover. Simply refrigerate and enjoy it later for a quick and tasty dish.
Pasta Salad with Chicken
6 oz. (or about 1¾ cups dry) whole-wheat fusilli
8 oz. cooked chicken breast, skinless and cut into thin strips
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 cups lightly steamed broccoli florets
2 scallions, thinly sliced, including green stem
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped kalamata olives (capers may be substituted)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. Italian herbs
1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ avocado, pitted, peeled and diced small
Cook pasta al dente per package directions. Transfer to colander to drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water to cool.
Gently mix all ingredients together in large salad bowl, except oil, lemon juice and avocado. (If not serving immediately, refrigerate.)
Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Toss gently again until pasta is well coated.
Add avocado and give the salad a final gentle toss immediately before serving.
Makes 4 servings (about 2 cups per serving).
Per serving: 407 calories, 15g total fat (2g saturated fat), 45g carbohydrate, 27g protein, 9g dietary fiber, 174mg sodium.