Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad with Chicken Meatballs

Maybe it’s just the effect of ramping up my workouts over the past week, but I’ve been cra-a-a-ving those carbs. So when it came time for this week’s meal prep, I gravitated toward more carb-heavy recipes in lieu of my typical salad to help me keep up with the increase in energy expenditure—enter, pasta salad.

In my search for the perfect gluten-free noodle in the pasta aisle, I discovered chickpea pasta is now a thing—what?! I don’t typically spend much time in the pasta aisle, so maybe I’m just late to the game, but I thought I’d give it a try for a little extra protein boost. And to broaden my repertoire of gf pastas.

I may not be a pasta connoisseur, but I’ve got to admit there’s something about all the fancy different types that makes me want to leave with a whole cart-full of pasta. They’re just so pretty! This is probably why I don’t allow myself to linger near those cute little carb-loaded bowties and elbows and other awesome shapes…

Ahem. All emotional reactions to the beauty of pasta aside, let’s get back to the task at hand.

Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad with Chicken Meatballs

This pasta salad is not only chock full of delicious veggies, but is also nice and light for summer, and it substitutes oil and vinegar for the traditional mayonnaise, scoring bonus points for those who might not love mayo—you’re welcome! I accidentally went into the grocery store with two lunch recipes in mind (pasta salad and zucchini chicken burgers), so I decided to just mesh them instead of having to decide between the two. If you’re not a meat eater, simply opt out of the meatballs and—voilà! a nice and easy vegetarian lunch!

The Ingredients:

For the pasta salad:

  • 1 box rotini pasta

  • Salt for the pasta water, to taste (the water should taste briny, like seawater)

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

  • 1 zucchini squash, thinly sliced

  • 1 yellow summer squash, thinly sliced

  • 2 heads of broccoli

  • 1/2 cup roasted bell peppers, chopped

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

For the chicken meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground chicken

  • 2 Tbsp dreid oregano

  • 1 zucchini, finely shredded and wish excess water squeezed out

  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp dried dill

  • 1 tsp salt

For the dressing:

  • 2/3 cup olive or avocado oil

  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard

  • 1 lemon, zested

  • Salt & pepper, to taste

The Method:

For the pasta salad:

  1. Set a large pot of salted water on medium-high heat—make sure the water tastes like brine. I promise, it’ll make a whole world of difference in the taste of the pasta! When water is boiling, add the whole box of pasta and cook until al dente (any more, and the pasta will get mushy)

  2. When pasta is finished, rinse with cold water to cool off and add

For the chicken meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

  2. Shred the zucchini, squeezing out any excess water

  3. Add all ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and mix thoroughly

  4. Use a cookie scoop to form the meatballs, rounding out any edges and line the baking sheet. For bite-sized meatballs, halve each scoop

  5. Cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, then let sit on a cooling rack until cool enough to add to the pasta salad

For the dressing:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl (or blend for a more cohesive mixture) and pour over the pasta

  2. Bon appetit!