My work is having a potluck lunch tomorrow to celebrate a few birthdays. And I almost wasn’t going to go, because I haven’t been feeling very happy about my food choices lately and I didn’t want to be tempted by the treats—and my coworkers can COOK, let me tell you. There’s usually the same fare at these things: bread/cheese, chips/salsa, crackers/hummus, salad, veggies, and SWEETS galore. And except for the cheese, I’m a big fan of all those things. So I was debating skipping it entirely and eating a salad or something at my desk. But thinking about it more, I realized:
- One of the birthdays being celebrated is that of my boss’s boss. So I should probably make at least an appearance.
- I don’t want to let my fear of proximity to unhealthy food keep me from fun things. I know the tricks (sit away from the food, don’t graze, avoid the boring, prepackaged stuff, load up on veggies, etc.) so it’s just a matter of putting them to use.
So I decided to go. Now I needed to come up with something to bring. I wanted to do something that was easy, that I was fairly certain would turn out ok, and that used ingredients I had on hand. Since I had a fresh shipment of CSA vegetables and a ton of pasta that we’re never going to eat, I decided on my party staple: pasta salad.
This pasta salad is super easy and healthy. The trick is to make it at least several hours ahead so the flavors can blend.
- 1.5 cups short pasta, like penne, bowtie, or elbow.
- 1/3 cup fire-roasted corn (from Trader Joe’s)
- 2-3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
- 3 radishes, sliced
- 2/3 cup chickpeas
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup light Italian salad dressing (my fav: Newman’s Own)
- Cook pasta according to directions. Be careful not to overcook, because they will soften further when dressed.
- Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop cooking process.
- Add remaining ingredients and toss.
- Let sit in fridge for at least 2 hours. Overnight if you can. Serves 6.
How crazy does that radish look? Organic produce: you never know what you’re gonna get. Or is that chocolate? I digress…
The best thing about this recipe is that you can tailor it to your tastes and ingredients on hand. In the summer I like making pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. I’ve also make a Greek version with Greek dressing, red onion, pepperoncini peppers, and feta. I work with a lot of vegetarians, otherwise I would have put in some crumbled cooked bacon or chopped pepperoni. Sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro, grilled zucchini, jarred jalapenos—the choices are almost endless! What do you like to eat or put in a pasta salad? Do you like the mayo-based kind or the dressing kind like I make?
I think my coworkers will like this, and it’s “Hallie-friendly” so I can have the leftovers for lunch on Friday. I just hope there aren’t three other kinds of pasta salad at the potluck tomorrow. Clearly, work parties give me a bit of anxiety (I’m sure that’s shocking to anyone who’s read my blog before). But I know in the end, I’ll have a good time—and if nothing else it’ll make tomorrow go by a little faster and that gets me one step closer to the weekend!
I’m off to stalk some people on Twitter. Goodnight!