This zesty high-protein pasta salad doesn't skip a beat when it comes to flavor. Plus, it's simple to make, low in carbs, calories and fat, and gluten-free!
Even though this is a healthy, high-protein pasta salad, you'd think this is your typical, not-as-healthy Italian pasta salad since it's so similar in taste. It's made the usual suspects including an Italian-inspired salad dressing, feta cheese, fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and olives.
But there are two healthy swaps, which make this salad high in protein and low in carbs and calories:
1. We replace the chopped pepperoni with turkey pepperoni, which is much healthier since it's higher in protein and lower in calories and fat. You likely wouldn't guess the turkey pepperoni isn't regular pepperoni when in the salad.
2. We replace regular pasta with Palmini noodles, a pasta substitute made with hearts of palm. Palmini noodles make this salad low in calories and carbs.
Palmini noodles are perfect in this cold salad since they have a neutral flavor that take on the zesty flavor of the dressing and are similar to al dente pasta in texture. Plus, no need to cook them, just rinse and dry them before incorporating. Easy peasy.
This high-protein pasta salad is quick to make (just 10 minutes!) and ideal for meal prep since it can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for several days.
What is Palmini Pasta?
Palmini is a low-carb pasta substitute made from hearts of palm (a vegetable). It has a neutral vegetable flavor and resembles al dente pasta in texture. Since it's made mostly of water, it's also very low in calories. Additionally, it's gluten-free and keto-friendly.
Ingredients & Substitutes
Palmini Angel Hair Noodles: Palmini noodles, which are made from hearts of palm, are perfect in this salad and keep in low in calories and carbs. We use Palmini angel hair, but you could also use linguini. You could use another low-carb pasta if preferred, but the nutrition will change and it will likely not be as low in calories.
Turkey pepperoni: To make this salad high in protein, you need to use turkey pepperoni (not pork) since it's leaner, higher in protein and lower in calories and fat. If you don't like pepperoni, a tasty substitute is leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken (cut into small chunks).
Fresh veggies/fruit: Since this an Italian-inspired pasta salad, we use cucumbers and grape/cherry tomatoes. However, you could also consider bell peppers or red onion (be aware that the nutrition will slightly change).
Feta cheese: We use reduced-fat feta to keep the protein percentage high, but you could use regular feta as well (and it will still be high in protein). Another option is freshly grated parmesan, which is also low in fat and high in protein.
Vinaigrette: We make a simple vinaigrette made from extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
STEP 1: Thoroughly rinse (in cold water) and drain the Palmini noodles. Set aside.
STEP 2: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar and lightly season with salt and pepper. Stir well and set aside
STEP 3: After chopping the ingredients as indicated, combine all the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Use tongs to toss the ingredients together. Please note the Palmini tends to clump so you'll need to pull apart and toss among the ingredients. If desired, top with fresh herbs like basil or parsley. Serve immediately.
How to Store
You can store leftovers or make in advance and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED HIGH IN PROTEIN?
We love high-protein meals, snacks and desserts since they help keep you full for longer periods of time. Therefore, you’re less likely to overeat. Wikipedia defines a high-protein diet as more than 20% of calories from protein while Diet Doctor uses 25% go 35% of calories. For more information about a high-protein diet, check out Diet Doctor.
If you try this recipe, we would love to hear your feedback! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag @lowcarbsimplified on your photo of this recipe on Instagram or Facebook. We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
High Protein Pasta Salad (Low Carb & Low Calorie)
- 1 package (12 ounces) Palmini Low Carb Angel Hair
- 1 cup English cucumbers, quartered
- 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes, quartered
- ½ cup reduced-fat crumbled feta (we use Athenos Reduced Fat Feta)
- 90 grams (3.2 ounces) turkey pepperoni, sliced in halves
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to season
- ¼ cup chopped black olives (optional)
- Prepare noodles: Thoroughly rinse (in cold water) and drain the Palmini noodles. Set aside.
- Make vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar and lightly season with salt and pepper. Stir well and set aside
- Toss and finish: After chopping the ingredients as indicated, combine all the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Use tongs to toss the ingredients together. Please note the Palmini tends to clump so you'll need to pull apart and toss among the ingredients. If desired, top with fresh herbs like basil or parsley. Serve immediately.