With the Summer coming around - finally - we're slowly starting to transition away from the heavier, heartier mid-day meals and into lighter fare. While we are nowhere near harvesting our own tomatoes, peppers and zucchini from the backyard plots yet (my plants are still inside, albeit very happy), we're clamoring for the fresh flavours after a long winter and cold, rainy spring.
Victoria Day is coming up this weekend, and many of us are going to various BBQs, patio parties or simple al fresco meals where a "potluck" is taking place. Speaking from experience, potlucks are great in theory, and in practice if you have no food restrictions, but for those with allergies or celiac the buffet table can prove problematic. When Barilla sent me a few boxes of their Gluten Free Pasta
at the same time as a shipment of delicious dips from Litehouse Foods (which are almost exclusively gluten free as well) came to my door, I immediately wondered how I could combine the two into one spectacular take-along dish. I had a wealth of choices for both pasta and dips - all the basic noodle shapes (spaghetti, elbows, rotini, penne and fettuccine) are part of the Barilla line, and are free of not only gluten, but animal products, nuts, peanuts, soy and GMOs. The dips were a mixture of classics (like Caesar and Ranch) and unique (dill and avocado). All of them (and their descriptions) are below:
This thick and creamy dip is the perfect blend of real avocado, sour cream, lime juice, spices and a little kick from chopped jalapenos. It is a great dip for chips, and a natural complement for Mexican food, or to spread on a BLT instead of mayonnaise.
One of our most popular flavors, this creamy dip is a blend of sour cream, real dill and spices. Excellent as a veggie or chip dip, it is also a great addition to grilled salmon!
Just the right mix of sour cream, buttermilk, garlic and onion. Add a savory kick to your chips and veggies!
Our famous Homestyle Ranch is a delicious combination of fresh herb and vegetable flavors. This traditional favorite is sure to please your family! Treat your family by serving Litehouse Homestyle Ranch with dinner tonight!
A robust Caesar with lots of garlic, Parmesan and just the right touch of anchovy. Our quality ingredients and taste make this dressing the perfect complement to your Caesar salad.
Since Mom loves all things avocado, and those fruits are getting mighty pricey at the supermarket, I decided to make a somewhat Tex-Mex take on a classic pasta salad. The avocado dip contains egg yolks, just like traditional mayonnaise, but also sour cream which lightens up the flavour considerably and definitely classifies it as a "Summer" treat - I can see it paired with black beans and cheese in tacos or drizzled over grilled fish too.
In the interest of quick cooking and minimal clean up, I decided to give this pasta salad a "one pot" approach. Everything from cooking the chicken to cooking the pasta was done in a large pot and added successively to a mixing bowl before being topped with the dip and tossed. This also ensured that dressing met ingredients while they were still warm and receptive to flavours - a key to any good pasta salad! Being fairly experienced with gluten free pasta, I made sure to taste the pasta as it cooked, ready to pull it before the 7 minutes the macaroni box stated it took to become al dente - and to my taste, 6 minutes was perfect (my sister likes softer pasta and preferred 7). Either way, heavily salting the water like you would "normal" pasta truly elevates the flavours, adding an almost "buttery" note hinted at by the corn in the noodle dough.
The real punch of flavour and colour in this salad comes from the medley of vegetables, which are infinitely variable as you have available. I chose a fairly standard "Tex-Mex" mix of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, green onions and olives, which brought sweet, salty, tangy and spicy elements and even brighter colours. These vegetables also keep relatively well in the fridge as a salad, which allows you to make a big batch in advance and go at it over the week.
|A plethora of veggies for a chicken pasta salad - made with @litehousefoods avocado dip and @barillaus gluten free elbow pasta|
Chicken and Avocado Pasta Salad
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 large red pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 dry pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 oz kalamata olives, chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 (340 g) box Barilla Gluten Free Elbows
1 container (just shy of 2 cups) Litehouse Avocado Dip
- Place a large pot over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray.
- Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until done. Remove to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Add red pepper and zucchini along with another sprinkle of pepper and saute until just tender. Transfer to the bowl with the chicken.
- Add the tomatoes, olives and green onions.
- Add water and a large pinch of salt to the pot used to cook the chicken and vegetables (no need to clean).
- Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.
- Drain and immediately add to the bowl of vegetables.
- Add the avocado dip and fold through to combine everything.
- Serve immediately, let cool to room temperature or chill before serving - this is best (IMHO) after a night in the fridge.
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 24.8 g
Cholesterol: 35.3 mg
Sodium: 480.6 mg
Total Carbs: 33.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 7.9 g