This is a recipe I’ve been meaning to make a blog post about for a long time… Probably since I started this blog. And part of the reason that I started this blog was to share recipes like this… This is my own version of the Hairy Dieters Simple Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad (Hairy Dieters Book 1, p186), I’ve made this recipe so often that the spine of the book is broken here and the pages are all grimy. There are also a lot of sticky notes on this page with my adaptations of the recipe. I’ve been eating this recipe on and off for nearly a year now.
Last year, actually a year and a half ago now, I started my weight-loss journey with a full meal replacement course, which was in three stages, first stage was all three meals replaced, second stage was two meals replaced one of my own, third stage was one meal replaced and two of my own before you either keep doing that or drop all meal replacements. The idea is that you can slowly adapt your eating pattern to a better eating pattern by only having to deal with one meal at a time. For stage 2, I started eating my own dinners again (using the Hairy Dieters books as they have great recipes) and for stage 3, I also started eating my own lunches again.
For the first weeks I kind of struggled to find something that was both easy to make and easy to plan out. Lots of things that I used to eat in the past just weren’t doing it for me anymore, or had too many calories. I decided to try something totally different, making a lunch salad that I could eat all week, but only had to make once. This was the first recipe that I tried (since pasta salads like this are easy to store/freeze) and I’ve made a couple of other recipes, but few as often as this.
As I made the recipe more often, some things started bugging me. For one, the recipe was only made for four days, not a full week of five lunches. Two, tuna, especially flaked tuna, doesn’t freeze nicely. Three, the dressing tasted good but also didn’t freeze well. I swapped out the tuna for some smoked chicken breasts, and took out the dressing (if I feel like it I sometimes put a tablespoon of low-fat crème fraiche in it for creaminess), which resulted in a recipe that was way too low in calories (139 cal). I solved this by doubling the recipe (so make 8 portions in total) and then dividing it over 5 portions. This means that the meals will be bigger, but they will still only end up at 222 calories per portion.
Before I move over to the actual recipe, here are some important details:
- This is a 5 portion recipe, so 5 lunches in total.
- There is about 60 grams of chicken, 80 grams of cooked pasta and roughly 250 grams of veggies in here. That means that you’ve had about half your daily recommended amount of fruit and veg in a single meal!
- Remember this whole thing about eating many different colours of veggies because they contain different nutrients? Yep, also covered here!
- I’ve also made this in the past (with a dressing) as a pasta salad for a family lunch, and they loved it!
- I eat this warm or cold, I actually prefer my lunch warm, so I pop it into the microwave for a couple of minutes before I eat.
Quick Chicken and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad
- 200 grams of pasta (I prefer fusilli for their shape)
- 2 bell peppers
- 1/2 cucumber
- 200 grams of cherry tomatoes
- 2 small (195 grams) cans of sweetcorn
- 3 to 4 spring onions
- 300 grams of smoked chicken breast
- large mixing bowl
- pan for boiling pasta
- chopping board
- large spoon
- kitchen scale (if you don’t have one, really, get one!)
- 5 storage containers that are freezer (and microwave) safe
Measure out your pasta, 200 grams (yes, the picture says 150, but I added more later). I like to put the pan onto the scale, and then measure in the pan, that way I don’t have to move things over from one bowl into another. Put water to boil (I boil it in an electric kettle so I don’t have to worry about my pasta).
Chop up your bell peppers, in about 2 cm cubes.
If (like me) you don’t like your bell peppers raw, you can boil them for a couple of minutes with your pasta. As my pasta is boiling, I go on to chop up everything else.
Chop up half a cucumber into 1.5 cm cubes. Toss into bowl.
Half your cherry tomatoes.
Drain your cans of sweetcorn and put it into the bowl together with the tomatoes.
Finely slice your spring onions and add those to the bowl too. By now, your pasta will probably be done. Drain it and run it under cold water until it’s cold. By cooling it early, you don’t have to worry about that when you want to freeze it later.
Chop the chicken into about 1-2cm cubes. It’s always hard for me not to snack on a bit or two… I know, naughty! The Hairy Bikers would totally tell me off for this!
Add your spices. You won’t need much salt as the chicken will be salty enough, but a good amount of black pepper and some lovely garlic powder will make it all the better!
Mix everything. Look at all those colours! This salad isn’t just really nice, even looking at it makes me smile.
Using your kitchen scale, measure your lunches to go into your containers.
You’re ready for the week!
I put two in the fridge and the other three in the freezer, that way I’m always sure I eat things that are still within date.
Have a great lunch!!
The recipe card below can be printed, so they’re easy to keep on hand when you’re cooking (especially if you make your own recipe book).
Quick Chicken and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad
Quick and filling pasta salad.
- Boil your pasta water. Cook your pasta according to the instructions. If you want you can add your chopped bell peppers for a couple of minutes too.
- Chop all your other ingredients, add spices if you want.
- When the pasta is done, drain and run under cold water until cool.
I like to add lettuce to the recipe, fills it out a little more. Plus, I really like the combination of the cool lettuce and the warm salad.
This one is with lettuce and some low-fat crème fraiche.
What do you think? Are you going to try this recipe? Do you have a recipe to share? Comment below!