Meatless Monday: Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad

Main Courses, Meatless, Pasta, Salad / Monday, August 22nd, 2011

It’s good to be back in the kitchen.

Last week, we replaced the floor in there, which doesn’t sound too exciting, but believe me, that blur you just saw out the corner of your eye? That was me running buck naked through your house, because I’m so glad those angry beige tiles are OUT OF MAH LIFE! They were like self-destructing scales. If you stood on them for more than 15 minutes, they’d shatter like a stack of Saltines. How rude.

Sledgehammers for everyone!

Now that the kitchen is open for business, I’m ready to get back to work. Today, I made enough Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad to give me lunch for the next several days, so that I can concentrate on More Important Things, like cookies.

The pasta salad comes straight from Cooking Light’s “Mix & Match Low-Calorie Cookbook,” but it doesn’t reek of “diet.” It’s a bright, zingy, wake-up-your-tastebuds kind of pasta salad, with chopped tomato, capers, red onion, banana peppers, Monterey Jack and white beans.

(I made it without meat for Meatless Monday, but if you’re feeding a few meat-eaters, you could add a little chopped hard salami or sliced pepperoni to their plates.)

Best of all, you can enjoy an entire one-and-a-half-cup serving without breaking the kitchen tiles or feeling bloated as you run naked through people’s homes, celebrating various home improvement projects.

Just wait until I figure out how to hang more lights in the garage.

You’ll have to shield your eyes for WEEKS.

Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad

From the “Cooking Light Mix & Match Low-Calorie Cookbook”

Makes four 1 1/2-cup servings (343 calories each)

  • 6 ounces (about 1 cup) uncooked ditalini (or any other small pasta)
  • 2 1/4 cups (about 14 ounces) diced plum tomato
  • 1/3 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced pickled banana peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 (16-ounce) can navy beans or your choice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional add-ins: chopped hard salami or pepperoni (on meaty nights), chopped cucumber, black olives, red bell pepper, fresh basil
  1. Cook 6 ounces (about 1 cup) dried pasta according to directions on package. Drain, and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the tomato and the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add pasta to the tomato mixture, tossing well to combine.