Eating for Life | Hot off the grill: pasta salad

Whole-grain pasta, a lighter dressing, lean protein and lots of veggies create a new classic.

06/19/2012 1:00 PM

05/16/2014 6:47 PM

Pasta salads are perennial favorites at backyard barbecues, potlucks or picnics. Too bad they’re usually made with plain white pasta and drowning in oil or mayonnaise.

The Star’s

Grilled Shrimp and Vegetable Pasta Salad

tweaks the ingredients to create a tasty, more nutritious alternative that’s sure to become a summer classic.

For starters, switch to whole-grain pasta. (Don’t listen to the naysayers in your house. The more you serve them, the sooner their palates will adjust.)

Next cut back on the oil and bump up the flavor using Dijon, garlic and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. To add texture, fiber and vitamins, pile on a mountain of good-for-you grilled veggies.

And, finally, add shrimp, a popular, tasty lean protein that is low in calories and a good source of iron, potassium and niacin. And here’s a shocker: a 4-ounce serving of shrimp, which contains 119 calories and 24 grams of protein, has more vitamin D than an 8-ounce glass of milk.

You may remember the days when shrimp was considered a taboo food because it was thought the cholesterol it contained affected blood cholesterol. Doctors now think saturated fat is more of a culprit. You may notice that the percentage of fat is more than 30 percent. Keep in mind that the fat is unsaturated and the calorie count remains low.

Shrimp also contains the amino acid taurine, which helps to keep your arteries from clogging. Taurine “acts like plastic wrap so fats can’t cross the intestinal wall and get into your arteries,” Dr. Oz said on a recent show about artery-clogging cholesterol. Oz recommends eating five medium-sized steamed or grilled (not breaded or fried) shrimp twice a week.

The addition of shrimp also bumps what is traditionally a side dish up to one-dish entrée status, a plus for cooks who prefer to kick back and enjoy the sunshine rather than spend more time in the kitchen.

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Cooking tip:

If you do not have a grill basket or fine-mesh grate, thread vegetables and shrimp onto skewers; proceed as recipe directs.

Grilled Shrimp and Vegetable Pasta Salad

Makes 6 servings (about 1 1/2 cups per serving; total yield about 8 cups) 8 ounces fresh large shrimp, peeled and deveined, or frozen, thawed shrimp, drained 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 3/4-inch thick 1 medium red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 6 strips 6 to 8 button mushrooms, halved 4 ounces whole-grain rotini, bow-tie or penne pasta 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped 1/4 cup fresh minced basil Vinaigrette: 1/2 cup white wine vinegar 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 2 cloves garlic, minced Salt and pepper, to taste 3 tablespoons olive oil

Place shrimp in a resealable bag and zucchini, red pepper and mushrooms in another resealable bag. Set both aside.

To make vinaigrette, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice and mustard. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil and whisk until blended. Pour 1 tablespoon vinaigrette over shrimp; seal and toss to coat. Pour 1 tablespoon over vegetables; seal and toss to coat. Refrigerate shrimp and vegetables for 30 minutes. Set remaining vinaigrette aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Preheat grill to medium-high or allow coals to burn down to white ash. Drain vegetables and shrimp and discard marinade. Grill vegetables in a grill basket or on fine mesh grate over direct heat, 10 minutes or until done as desired, turning and stirring to cook evenly. Remove from grill and set aside. Grill shrimp over direct heat, 2 to 3 minutes or just until shrimp are done and turn pink, turning to cook evenly. Coarsely chop red pepper.

In a salad bowl, combine pasta, grilled vegetables, grilled shrimp, tomatoes and basil. Pour remaining vinaigrette over all and toss to coat. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Per serving: 208 calories (35 percent from fat), 8 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 57 milligrams cholesterol, 22 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 126 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.

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