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Good Food/Good Health
Week of June 9, 2008
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Contact: Sarah Wally, (202) 328-7744

Showcase Summer’s Bounty in a Pasta Salad

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

Pasta salad is nearly synonymous with summer cookouts. But too many recipes call for fat-laden additions like mayonnaise and lots of cheese. Our version, which uses whole-wheat pasta, features a variety of seasonal veggies – adding a healthy spin to a classic summer dish.

It’s hard to talk about pasta without first delving into its long and colorful past. For starters, many historians contest the popular myth that the Venetian explorer Marco Polo introduced spaghetti to the Italians when he returned from China in the late thirteenth century. In reality, the people of the Mediterranean already enjoyed fresh pasta. In fact, macaroni was mentioned in the will of a Genoan soldier in 1279 – almost two decades before Polo returned from China. Pasta also holds a place in American history. In the 1920s, U.S. farmers used pasta as a marketing campaign to promote the sale of wheat.

In recent years, food manufacturers have dramatically improved the taste and texture of commercial whole-wheat pasta. If you haven’t tried it recently, pick up a box. With all three parts of the wheat grain intact, whole-wheat varieties provide fiber, B vitamins and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

The lightly sautéed, colorful vegetables offer disease-preventing properties of their own. The yellow and red bell peppers, for example, provide beta-carotene and vitamin C – two antioxidants that may play a role in fighting esophageal cancer.

This flavorful recipe can be prepared a day in advance. Chilling it overnight not only eases your day-of prep time, but it also gives the flavor of the vegetables and herbs time to develop and mingle with the pasta.

PastaSalad 0152

Mixed Vegetable Pasta Salad

12 oz. whole-wheat pasta, variety of your choice
1 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup low fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 (28 oz.) can unsalted diced tomatoes in juice
1 (16 oz.) package button mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 romaine lettuce leaves (any other large lettuce leaves may be substituted)

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook per package directions until al dente (firm, not mushy). Thoroughly drain pasta. Place in a large serving bowl, add oil, toss and set aside.

Using large skillet over medium heat, heat the chicken broth. Add garlic, onions and tomatoes. Cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and cook until they are tender crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper.

Add the vegetable mix to the pasta. Toss to mix evenly. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 to 2 hours.

To serve, place lettuce leaves on plates. Top with pasta salad and serve immediately.

Makes 14 servings.

Per serving: 140 calories, 2.5 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 24 g carbohydrates,
5 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 140 mg sodium


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $100 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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