Yay! This Super-Healthy Vegetarian Salad Puts Pasta Back on the Menu

Updated 05/17/17

While we're all acutely aware of how vital those five servings of fruit and vegetables are to our heart health, brain function, and metabolism, the big question is, how do we fit it in? Breakfast is often consumed on the fly as you race out the door to work, lunch can be just as rushed in between meetings, and if you get stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home, dinner might not happen until late into the night. Finding the time to make nutritious meals that meet the daily green requirements can be a hopeless cause, but you have to block out the time on the calendar and make it happen.

Best-selling authors and bloggers David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl of Green Kitchen Stories have made simple, healthy meals their business mantra. The young couple has mastered the art of cooking (and eating) healthy and simple vegetarian food using natural ingredients, whole grains, good fats, fruit, and vegetables. And now you can try them too with their new book Green Kitchen at Home with simple recipes even the amateur chef can cook. Being healthy doesn't have to be hard. Frenkiel and Vindahl shared three of their favorite vegetarian salad recipes with a bonus fruit salad recipe that's perfect for the summer months ahead. Our favorite? The pesto pasta salad with strawberries… delicious!

David Frenkiel

Strawberry and Pesto Pasta Salad

David Frenkiel

"Pasta salad has a pretty bad rep, thanks to the heavy mayo and ham salads from the '90s. Our modern version is easy on the eyes and much fresher, with a bounty of fruit and veggies to complement the pasta. Mixing pesto with avocado for the dressing makes it creamy, rich and flavorful yet still light."

Serves 6

Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

3 cups whole grain or gluten-free pasta of choice
1 broccoli, head and stalk
2 carrots, tops removed and peeled
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, tops removed
2 cups cherry tomatoes
14 oz. tin chickpeas (garbanzo beans),* drained and rinsed
3/4 oz. fresh basil, leaves picked

Ingredients for pesto and avocado dressing:

1/3 cup Perfect Pesto (page 25) or store-bought pesto
1 ripe avocado, stone removed and flesh scooped out
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients to serve:

shaved slices of pecorino, Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
toasted pine nuts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into small florets, trim and roughly chop the stalk, and place them in a sieve over the pasta water during the last few minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and broccoli, and set aside to cool slightly.

Place all of the dressing ingredients in a medium-size bowl, season to taste, mash until combined, and set aside.

Thinly slice the carrots, cut the strawberries into quarters and the tomatoes in half. Transfer the pasta and broccoli to a large serving bowl, add the rest of the ingredients along with the dressing, and gently toss until everything is well coated.

Add a dash of water if you need to loosen the dressing. Serve topped with some pecorino, a sprinkling of pine nuts, seasoning, and a drizzle of oil.

*Or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (page 26).

Burrata, Peach, and Grilled Vegetable Salad

David Frenkiel

"There is a café located on the opposite side of town from us that serves the most incredible salads—always full of flavor, colorful and pretty, like pieces of art. We rarely leave the southern parts of the city, where we live, but when we do, it is often for their salad. Lately, we have started re-creating a similar version at home. The key elements are a creamy burrata, a mix of raw and grilled vegetables, peach slices, dots of beetroot (beet) spread, and a drizzle of herb oil."

Serves 4

Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 red bell peppers
20 red cherry tomatoes, on the vine
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe peaches, stones removed, or pears, cored
2 small, raw yellow beetroot (beet), trimmed, tops removed and peeled
1 3/4 oz. arugula leaves or mesclun
8 yellow (or red) cherry tomatoes, halved
20 Kalamata olives, drained and pitted
8 3/4 oz. burrata or buffalo mozzarella, drained

Ingredients for herb oil:

3/4 oz. fresh mint
3/4 oz. flat-leaf parsley
3/4 oz. fresh basil
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

Beetroot Spread (page 211)
balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF, and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Cut the peppers into 3/4-inch thick slices, and transfer to the baking tray along with the cherry tomatoes. Drizzle over the oil, season to taste, and toss until well coated. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender and slightly charred.

Meanwhile, prepare the herb oil. Place all of the herb oil ingredients in a food processor, season to taste, pulse until coarsely mixed, and set aside.

To assemble the salad, cut the peaches into wedges, shave the beetroot, and arrange on top of the arugula, with the peppers, baked and fresh tomatoes, and olives. Break the burrata into large pieces, and place on top. Serve with dollops of beetroot spread and a drizzle of herb oil and vinegar.

Warm Fruit Salad with Chocolate and Almonds

David Frenkiel

"This little gem is simple but brilliant. Giving the fruit salad a quick tour in the oven elevates the flavors, brings out the juices, and melts the dark chocolate on top. It's such a simple dessert to throw together if you have friends over, and it feels a whole lot more exciting than a plain old platter of fruit. It's a popular Swedish dessert that is normally made with white chocolate. We make it with dark chocolate, salted nuts, and flaked coconut for extra crunch and goodness. Adapt the choice of fruit to the season."

Serves 4

Prep and cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup almonds*
2 ripe bananas, peeled
3 kiwi fruits, peeled
3 fresh apricots, stones removed
2 plums, stones removed
10 fresh strawberries, tops removed
10 fresh cherries, stems removed and pitted
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 3/4 oz. good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1/3 cup flaked coconut (coconut chips)

To serve:

full-fat plain unsweetened yogurt of choice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF, and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Place 1 tablespoon of boiled water and the salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, and stir until dissolved. Add the almonds, and mix until combined. Transfer the almonds to the baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven, and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare the fruit salad. Cut the fruit into bite-size pieces, and transfer to a baking dish. Drizzle over the lime juice, and toss until well coated. Roughly chop the salted almonds, and sprinkle them over the fruit salad. Grate over the chocolate, and then scatter the flaked coconut and lime zest on top.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until the fruit is warm and juicy, the chocolate has melted, and the flaked coconut is golden.

Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt.

*As a shortcut, simply use store-bought salted almonds, but omit the water and salt.

Tips: "For a nut-free alternative, replace the almonds with sunflower or pumpkin seeds. For a vegan alternative, replace the yogurt with a plant-based yogurt, such as coconut or soy."

David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl The Green Kitchen $20
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What are your favorite summer salad ingredients?

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