What To Eat When It’s Hot Out — Chickpea Pesto Pasta Salad (Grain-free, Dairy-Free)
I feel like a broken record as of late but DAYUM — it’s hawt outside!
Along with following the No-Cook, 5-minute Foolproof Salad Formula basically every day (check out last week’s post for more ideas like watermelon salad or this Stone Fruit, Nut, Avocado + Arugula Salad) I’ve been eating tons of mezze platters (i.e. sliced veggies + fruit with dips), fresh rolls with cashew butter dipping sauce and pasta salad.
Why Pasta Salad?
While the pasta salad does require a wee bit of cooking (you have to boil water for the pasta) I find I can easily do this in the morning or evening when it’s cooler, toss it together with all the ingredients and then store in the fridge to eat up for days.
AKA it’s one of those make-ahead recipes that tastes even better after it sits for a bit — the pesto sauce marinates the veggies and pasta, so it’s extra flavorful.
What Are The Health Benefits of Chickpea Noodles?
Unlike traditional pasta salad, this recipe swaps noodles made with flour or grains for chickpea noodles (which is a legume).
I love substituting with chickpea pasta because it’s much lower on the glycemic index as well as rich in fiber AND protein (i.e. 25 g of protein + 13 g of fiber per serving vs. the traditional 13 g of protein & 3 g of fiber with traditional pasta).
This essentially means *for most* you can eat a serving of this pasta without it causing a spike in your blood sugar due to too much glucose consumption (which happens when you eat too many refined carbs or sugar), leading your pancreas to over-produce the hormone insulin, leading to too much glucose in your blood without a way for it to get into your cells for energy, leading to the glucose being stored in your fat cells which can then result in weight gain, insulin resistance, a crash in energy, nutrient malabsorption and even more intense carb cravings.
It’s a vicious cycle (and if you want more info on it let me know — I’m always happy to dive deeper!) that can be avoided by pairing low-glycemic, whole-grain carbs (quinoa, legumes, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.) with some protein and fat to slow the absorption of glucose into our blood stream.
So by consuming the chickpea pasta, you’re already killing two birds with one stone by having protein built in.
What’s The Best Way To Eat It?
Toss the pasta with some pesto rich in healthy fats (olive oil and pumpkin seeds) and seasonal veggies (corn, arugula, heirloom tomatoes) for additional vitamins, minerals and flavor and you’ve got yourself a winning combo.
Bring to your next potluck or BBQ, pack with you as a picnic lunch or dinner, or simply eat it hovering over your portable AC unit (guilty) to beat the heat without sacrificing a good meal.
*A side note for all my pregnant mamas out there dealing with nausea or cravings — I made this pasta regularly throughout my first trimester when all I wanted was carbs. It’s a good way to sneak in nutrients for the babe without feeling sick to your stomach.
**Additionally, NO I am not getting paid to write this post. I’m just obsessed with hacking food in a way that tastes good and helps us feel our best — and to me noodles made from legumes most def falls under this category 🙂
Happy (minimal) cooking!
Chickpea Pesto Pasta Salad
Wondering what to eat when it's hot out? This make-ahead, hearty + healthy pasta salad requires very minimal cooking and tastes even better as cold leftovers straight out of the fridge. It gets a healthy & tasty upgrade with protein + fiber rich chickpea noodles, herby pesto and bright, seasonal veggies.
For The Pasta Salad:
- 1 package Banza Chickpea Pasta Noodles
- 2 ears of organic, sweet corn (option to grill or leave raw)
- ½ cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- ½ cup fresh arugula
- Optional -- ¼ cup dairy-free cheese such as Kite Hill Almond Ricotta or full-fat goat or feta
- Optional -- Add in a few slices of crispy chopped bacon. I love the Wellshire Sugar-Free Dry-Rubbed Paleo Option
For The Pesto:
- I use this recipe
- Follow the package instructions on the pasta to cook (typically it will have you bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta shells for about 9 minutes, then drain).
- While pasta is cooking, add all pesto ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well-combined, then set aside.
- Chop/prep veggies and any additional ingredients you want to add.
- When pasta is done cooking toss with veggies and pesto. Eat immediately or store in the fridge. The flavors will only get better and it holds up well for several days. I recommend eating cold or at room temp.