Friday, May 29, 2009

Chickpea Pasta Salad with Agave Vinaigrette

Agave syrup is a healthier alternative to processed and most other natural sugars, such as honey. It's glycemic index is significantly lower than other non-nutrative sweeteners. I try to substitute agave where I can. Try adding it to your coffee or tea, it's great! When I make pasta salad, my vinaigrette always contains a little honey. So, in this recipe,I figured agave nectar would be the perfect swap out for honey. The crazy thing is, I actually like it better than my old version. This pasta salad is easy to throw together for a last minute BBQ and can be made the night before. No mayo means it won't spoil and makes it perfect for the beach or a picnic in the park.

Chickpea Pasta Salad with Agave Vinaigrette
Serves 6-8 people

1 lb fusilli pasta (click here for a cool site showing pasta shapes)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup, grape tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 -15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 c red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons, lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2-3 tablespoons, agave nectar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions (I personally like to cook the pasta a little short of what the package says in order to ensure that my pasta is al dente). Drain the pasta and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Place cooled pasta in a large bowl and add the bell pepper, grape tomatos, red onions, chickpeas and parsley. Toss to combine.

In a small bowl combine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper and agave. Whisk to dissolve the salt and agave nectar. As you continue to whisk, slowly stream in the olive oil until the mixture is well combined. Pour dressing over pasta salad and gently mix to combine.

Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Can also be made up to 2 days in advance.


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