A quick and flavorful Italian pasta salad with fresh veggies, kid-friendly cheese tortellini, and prepared Italian dressing.
There’s a reason you won’t find many leafy green salads on my blog. I’m one out of four in my house that enjoys them. While I preach to family and friends not to cater to your children [or husband] when it comes to food, truth be told I’ve never been one to routinely make a leafy green salad at home. Because the good registered dietitian in me wants to expose my kids [and husband] to all sorts of healthy foods, I was at a loss with what to do about green salads! When I was sharing this food conundrum with my friend Aggie, she gave a great suggestion: try pasta salad with the boys! I sort of had an a-ha moment and realized pasta is vehicle I use frequently to get them to try new foods. Why not try it with salad ingredients as well?!
Italian pasta salad, like most foods I serve my family, has a little something for everyone. Joey and Anthony will of course eat the pasta, Ted loves the sopressata slices, and me? Well I’m selfish and love everything in this Italian pasta salad. And actually the boys will take some of the mozzarella and broccoli florets when I’m not looking. If they have an audience while eating most food ends up on the floor…
I cheat when I make this pasta salad and use store-bought Italian dressing. Feel free to make your own vinaigrette [like the one I used in this kale caprese salad]. OR choose your favorite brand from the store. I typically look for a dressing that has minimal ingredients that are recognizable, and that is oil-based. Fat-free or low-fat versions tend to be higher in sodium and sugar as compared to full-fat versions, so choose and compare the nutrition labels wisely! Joey’s tip? Let the dressing sit on the salad for a few hours before serving. The broccoli gets nice and soft— easier for those toddlers to chew!
- 1 [16-ounce] package whole wheat cheese tortellini
- ½ cup sopressata slices [or pepperoni slices], quartered
- ½ cup canned black olives, sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
- ½ cup bocconcini [fresh mozzarella balls], quartered
- ⅓ cup Italian dressing
- Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and cool completely in large mixing bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients to bowl. Stir well.
- Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Store for at least 2 hours for even better flavor.