Hungry Haley

it's more than food

Simple Pasta Salad (Vegan, GF)

Haley HansenComment

You know those parts in movies when the actor is suddenly overcome by a flashback? The texture of the screen becomes a little foggy to signify a time-change, the movement of the picture slows down a little, and its all usually accompanied by some meaningful, instrumental music. Ya’ know?

Cool, keep that in mind.

Don’t judge me, but I have negative memories associated with pasta salad. Well, not only negative memories, but mostly.

Almost 4 years ago, I was about twenty pounds heavier than I am now. Read more here. Life at this time, life before ED (not Ed, like Ed Sheeran), consisted of volleyball practice, running, spending endless hours/days/nights with friends, laying in the sun by the pool, and refueling with oatmeal, granola bars, and LOTS of pasta salad.

During the summer, I’d polish off, like, two bowls a day. I smile when I remember making a new recipe each day for my friend Cassidy (who basically lived with us) and I. Sometimes we wanted cheese tortellini with olives, other times we wanted just plain curly pasta (rotellini? I don’t know) with tomatoes, spinach, and some gooooooood dressing. Holy noodles I loved that stuff. This is the happy part of the memory.

Then, things change. This part is kind of like those parts in the movies when the precious memory turns ice cold and the flashback freezes the actors face and body and we can’t help but anticipate what in the world could turn such a heart-warming smile upside down into an uncomfortable frown. In my life-movie, this is the part when images, feelings, and numbers creep into my head and play back feelings and emotions of my eating disorder and the days just before – the days that fueled ED.

I had read and heard so much about how carbs are the culprit when it comes to weight gain, and that’s exactly what I assumed had packed those extra 20 pounds on me. Only recently have I finally accepted the opposite. Our bodies need carbs – especially those of us who don’t eat meat. Whole grains complement beans, nuts, and vegetables to form complete proteins. A big, fancy (it's really not though) pasta salad came to mind...

This is the part in the movie when it’s just me, gazing with googly, heart-eyes at a big bag of whole grain pasta. And some cheesy love song plays in the background as I cook the pasta, chop the veggies, and drizzle the preservative-free, homemade dressing over the top.

And the movie closes with my pasta salad and me, standing at the church alter, promising to continue strengthening our relationship, ignoring the “til death do us part” statement because graves ain’t got nothin’ on mama and her noodles.

So, I guess this simple pasta salad really has an emotionally significant story behind it. I appreciate your attention, especially when it comes to the serious stuff about my ED. Just promise me that, while you’re prepping this salad and while you’re enjoying it’s flavor, don’t take life too seriously. Just be present. Recognize all the different flavors, the unique textures, the tangy balsamic vinaigrette and the sweet tomatoes, with the al-dente pasta and the juicy asparagus.

You’ll have pasta salad for daaaaaaayz, so share it with someone you love!

Makes… a big salad

For the salad:
1 10 oz bag of your favorite whole-wheat pasta (I used the kind pictured above)
1 15-oz. can reduced-sodium black beans
1 15 oz. can reduced-sodium chickpeas
1 ½-2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
1 ½-2 cups chopped asparagus
2 bunches mixed greens/spinach
¼ cup diced red onion
A handful of fresh basil, chopped

For the dressing:
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
4 tbsp. each:
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1.     Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to its directions. When it’s finished, drain it in a colander and set it aside to cool. 
2.     While the pasta is cooking and cooling, chop the other ingredients as you like. To blanch the asparagus, add them to a large microwave-safe bowl and cover them with water. Pop them in the microwave for 3 minutes, then stir, and microwave 1-2 more minutes. Drain them in a colander and let them cool. 
3.     When everything is cooled, toss it all in a Tupperware container or something with a lid, and stir or shake. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing and pour it over the dry ingredients. Shake or stir to make sure everything is “dressed”. 
4.     Add the basil and salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately (if you’re impatient and hungry like me), or refrigerate at least 2 hours to let the flavors get funky together. 

Let me know what you think – email, comment, or tag me and #hungryhaley on instagram!