Protein Pasta Salad

Are carbs scary? Why do people think this? I love carbs – always have always will! Did you know carbs are important to the basic functionality of our bodies and burning energy?
I get it, there will always be something negative to say about pasta, bread, etc. but I am here to help you learn to love the beauty that carbs are! Variations of pasta come from so many different cultures and they are all so damn tasty! Today I am highlighting the innovation that is plant-based protein pasta! So many brands are getting on the band wagon of protein pasta and I am here for it!

I am using Barilla Protein + Penne – 100% plant based protein with a classic pasta taste, but any pasta (protein or not) will work PERFECTLY for this easy summer pasta salad.
Growing up pasta salad to me was loaded with mayonnaise and that just wasn’t really my favorite thing. Mayonnaise covered cold pasta? ew! This pasta salad is seasonally focused, fresh and freaking delicious!

Tomatoes are at the peak of season and are so dang juicy!! These cherry tomatoes are great for this but honestly whatever tomatoes you have will taste great! Kirby cucumbers (or any cucumber) sliced thin and then the fresh mozzarella! I am blessed that my neighborhood is packed with small localized stores aka really good Italian Markets that have fresh mozzarella! I love that more markets are prioritizing fresh products and finding mozzarella is so much easier!
I think this dish really comes together with this balsamic based marinade! Combine balsamic vinegar with rice wine vinegar, pinch of dried oregano and red pepper flakes. The flavor profile is tangy, savory, spicy and just too good to pass up! Combine all ingredients with marinade and let sit while you make the pasta!

Cook the pasta based on the boxed directions, drain and let cool slightly. Toss in with the vegetables and marinade and toss until well combined. The beauty of pasta salad is it’s the perfect dish to make ahead and store in the refrigerator. The marinade has time to work its magic and soak into the pasta and vegetables for an even better end product!
I always add the fresh herbs at the end because I enjoy the final touches and really adds that final kick of flavor! I finished this meal with fresh basil & sliced avocado. You can eat this for a delicious snack, add grilled chicken or shrimp for a balanced dinner or eat for breakfast because there are seriously no boundaries with any food.

Pasta salad is EASY and can be so so tasty! If you’re looking to add an extra punch of protein, the new-ish plant based protein pasta’s are a great way to get extra protein in while enjoying a classic dish!

follow and tag me on @fullbellythyme if you make this!

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