Great pasta side dishes

Few pantry staples are more versatile than pasta. It works well as a starter/side dish or as a main dish for a smaller group. Here are some delicious flavour packed options for you to serve with a lean protein, vegetable and fruit for a healthy and nutritious lunch or dinner.

Fresh Broccoli and Grape Pasta Salad.

Whisk together, 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup sugar, ½ cup onion, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Separate the florets, peel and chop stems.  Add the raw broccoli, boiled pasta, 2 cups halved red grapes and some chopped onion to the dressing and combine. Cover and chill before serving. For added crunch and flavour you can top with nuts and bacon. 

Cheesy vegetable medley

Steam some broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, rinse in cold water; drain and set aside. Place vegetables in a large bowl, add garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir in macaroni. Spoon half into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle some mozzarella and cheddar. Repeat layers. Pour cream over the top. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly. 

Ranch pasta salad

In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, ranch dressing, garlic powder and milk. Add pasta, cooked bacon pieces (chicken can be used too), tomato, olives and cheese to the bowl. Gently toss to combine everything. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

Creamy chicken mustard pasta

Dice up the chicken and season well with salt and pepper. Brown in pan. Chop some onions and garlic and add them into the pan when chicken is almost cooked through. Cook together for 3 minutes. Lower heat, add some chicken stock, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, fresh cream and mustard. Stir together. Add the pasta, toss together and serve. 

Beer, cheese and sausage pasta

In a medium saucepan, heat beer over medium-high heat until it bubbles. Stir in flour and cheese. Whisk until cheese has melted and is smooth. Whisk in Worcestershire, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Toss cooked sausage and pasta in mixture. 

Tip: Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.