Sweet and Savory Saturday

Penne pasta with berries, basil, nuts, and bleu cheese is a great dish to bring to a Memorial Day Picnic Celebration.

Fresh berries, basil, penne pasta, chopped walnuts, and bleu cheese are the ingredients featured in today’s recipe for Sweet and Savory Saturday.  As the days get warmer, I prefer to eat meals that are lighter in taste and that do not require the use of my oven (which heats up the house).  A cold pasta dish, not laden with a heavy cream and/or cheese-based sauce, is perfect for warmer days.

One of my favorites includes a combination of fresh berries, basil, nuts, and crumbled cheese (just enough to add flavor without “weighing” down the dish).  This meal is easy to prepare and a great dish to pass around at a Memorial Day picnic gathering.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of whole grain penne pasta (Tip: For picky palates, I like to mix the whole grain pasta with its more refined counterpart.  This gives it a milder taste,as well as, giving it visual interest due to the different colors between the two pasta products)
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/3 cup fat-free raspberry vinaigrette (or to taste)
  • salt/pepper to taste (optional)

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Place drained pasta into a bowl.  Add onion, blueberries, strawberries, and walnuts.  Toss to combine.  Gently mix in basil and blue cheese (so as to not crush the basil leaves and “smear” the bleu cheese – try to maintain the crumbled form).  Add salt and pepper and drizzle pasta with vinaigrette. Gently toss to allow vinaigrette to coat ingredients.  Serve with fresh sliced whole wheat bread.

Tip: Because of the high fat content of the walnuts and the blue cheese, you do not want to choose a salad dressing that is also high in fat.  A fat-free vinaigrette will provide flavor without the added calories from fat.  You may also substitute low-fat or non-fat shredded mozzarella cheese for the bleu cheese.

Do you have a favorite pasta dish?  How do you cut its fat content without compromising on taste?  Share with us, we want to know!

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Filed under fruit, health, healthy food, healthy picnic ideas, low-fat, Memorial Day, Memorial Day Meal, picnic, picnic recipes, Recipes, whole grains

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