The weather is warming up nicely here in NYC and as soon as the temps start going up, I get this insane craving for salad. My cravings aren’t limited to salads made with greens either. Grain salads , bean salads and pasta salads like this Chickpea Pasta Salad with Agave Vinaigrette all do the trick when I’m craving something cool and refreshing. And mixing up your salad ingredients is a great way to keep things exciting and flavorful. When making a salad try and combine different textures and colors and have fun with different dressing combos. No need for store bought dressing when you can just as easily combine your favorite acid (red wine vinegar, balsamic, lemon juice etc…) with olive oil, salt and pepper and for sweetness, add in a dash of freshly squeezed orange juice, honey or in the case of this salad, agave syrup.
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 original version. This recipe is a great one to make for a picnic or any outdoor dinning event (Think: beach or BBQ Potluck) because it isn’t made with mayo which means it will hold up nicely without refrigeration for quite a while. Best thing is, it can be made the night before and tastes even better the next day after it’s had a chance to sit for a while and soak up the dressing.
Chickpea Pasta Salad with Agave Vinaigrette
Serves 6-8 people
- 1 lb fusilli pasta or any one of your favorite short cut pastas will do
- 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
1. 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.
2. Place cooled pasta in a large bowl and add the bell pepper, grape tomatos, red onions, chickpeas and parsley. Toss to combine.
3. 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.
4. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Can also be made up to 2 days in advance.
Christina Stanley-Salerno is a mama, recipe developer, food stylist, photographer and blogger atTakeBackYourTable.com. She loves cooking for and with her family. Life is hectic, but Christina is passionate about mealtime because she believes that family meals are the glue that holds everyone together. Creating simple, quick and healthy meals is her specialty and her trick to keeping the family meal a reality, even on busy weeknights.
Follow her on Twitter @TakeBackTables