Sometimes simple is best. Sometimes ingredients that don’t call for a lot of work, are just what the weary cook needs. And sometimes a great, wholesome meal can include foods that are somewhat processed. I am still a huge advocate of not buying processed food, and if I do, I want to make sure it has the fewest ingredients possible. But from time to time, I need the added assistance of something already made.
That is definitely the case with this salad. I had a couple of Trader Joe’s items I thought would mix well with fresh veggies and pasta, and in about the time it took to cook the pasta, I had a wonderful pasta salad with flavors that delighted my palate.
However, use the rest of the recipe below as a guide and adjust where your inner chef takes you.
• 10-12 ounces whole wheat spiral pasta
• 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 medium zucchini, chopped (about 2 cups)
• 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
• 4 green onions, diced (about ⅓ to ½ cup)
• 7 ounces Trader Joe’s organic, savory-seasoned and baked tofu, cut into small cubes
• ¼ cup fresh basil, finely diced
• 1-2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely diced
• 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely diced
• ⅓ cup to ½ cup Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian Dressing with Balsamic Vinegar, or another Italian dressing of your choice
• Salt and pepper, to taste, optional*
• Salad greens to plate, optional
*The savory-flavored tofu along with the dressing was sufficient seasoning for me, so I did not add salt or pepper to mine.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, combine the cherry tomatoes, zucchini, green bell pepper, green onions, baked tofu, basil, parsley, and oregano in a large bowl. Toss together. Add cooked pasta and dressing and toss to combine. Taste and adjust amount of dressing and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow seasonings to get more defined. Serve on a plate of greens, if using.