A holiday weekend is coming up! Here's a quick and easy dinner for the weekend or anytime. It's based on an antipasto platter that usually contains cured meats, olives, cheese, assorted pickles and vegetables. Thinking of these ingredients, I created a quick and easy pasta salad. You can use other cured meats and vegetables that you like. Use this recipe as a guide for quantities. The salad can be made a day ahead. Refrigerate it and bring to room temperature before serving.
› Look for reduced-sodium ham and smoked turkey breast at the deli counter.
› You can use any type of short cut pasta such as bowtie or penne.
› To buy: 1 container corkscrew pasta, 1 bottle balsamic vinegar, 1/4 pound sliced lean deli ham, 1/4 pound sliced reduced-sodium smoked turkey breast, 1 small container pitted black olives, 1 can/jar roasted red peppers, 1 jar pepperoncini, 1 piece Parmesan cheese, 1 tomato and 1 bunch fresh basil.
› Staples: olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.
Antipasto Pasta Salad
1/4 pound corkscrew pasta (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound sliced lean deli ham, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1/4 pound sliced reduced-sodium smoked turkey breast, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1/4 cup black pitted olives, about 6
1 cup sliced canned or jar roasted red peppers
1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini
1 tomato cut into cubes (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
Bring large saucepan three-quarter filled with water to boiling. Add the pasta, and boil 8 minutes. Remove 2 tablespoons of the pasta water to a large bowl. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Drain the pasta, and add to the bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the ham, smoked turkey breast, olives, roasted peppers, pepperoncini and tomatoes. Toss all ingredients together. Divide in half, and spoon onto two dinner plates. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and basil on top.
Yield: 2 servings.
Per serving: 538 calories (31% from fat), 18.4 grams fat (4.3 grams saturated, 7.9 grams monounsaturated), 51 milligrams cholesterol, 35.8 grams protein, 55.1 grams carbohydrates, 5.4 grams fiber, 889 milligrams sodium.
— By Linda Gassenheimer
Linda Gassenheimer is the author of over 30 cookbooks, including her newest, "The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook."