Herby Pasta Salad (or, what to eat when you want to feel healthy but haven't been...)

This Easter long weekend was not, for me at least, one of virtue. Rather, it was expensive, involved all together too many pink mojitos, and resulted in a five star hangover that had me feeling sorry for myself well into sunday afternoon. I have often found myself wolfing down a fast food hamburger after a big night out, usually in an attempt to fill my churning stomach and fight off that nasty, empty hangover feeling that sadly often punctuates my weekends. Something greasy and cheesy generally hits the spot, although once the hangover has cleared and I'm stashing my oily fast food wrappers in the bottom of the bin, I'm always left feeling guilty, unhealthy, and usually pretty darn gross.

Enter my new favourite recipe! It combines two of my all time favourite ingredients: pasta and cheese - and both in liberal quantities - making it suitable hangover food, yet it also contains enough roughage to look and taste nutritious too. I'll admit it wasn't what I was craving as my headache slowly lifted last sunday evening, but I made up a big bowl full for lunch on monday. The fresh herby goodness that this dish is built on restored in me a certain healthy feeling (a feeling that I speculate was lost somewhere between my first glass of white on thursday evening and my fourth mojito in the early hours of Good Friday.) A healthy feeling... exactly what's lacking after a big weekend on the town. So with your wellbeing in mind, may I present:

Healthy Herb Salad
(or more truthfully, a salad to prepare when you want to feel healthy, but secretly crave big piles of cheese and carbohydrates)

What you will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups of pasta, preferably something small like risoni, macaroni, or darling little pasta stars (as pictured)
  • 1 bunch each of fresh dill, mint and basil (this seems like a strange combination of herbs, particularly if you don't like dill. I don't like dill, but I love this salad.)
  • 200g brown lentils (tinned ones are fine if you can't be bothered with preparation of dried ones)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 200g feta cheese
  • A generous handful of pitted black olives
  • Two or three tablespoons of red wine vinegar (for a sort of dressing)
  • One clove of garlic
  • A little cracked pepper to taste
What you will need to do:

Preparing this meal is so simple that it almost doesn't require neatly dot-pointed steps, but I'll stick with clearly outlined instructions, just so my Inner Delia Smith (read: my inner obsessive-complusive) doesn't baulk at the sight of a disorganised recipe.
  • Cook pasta, drain and set aside
  • Boil lentils (unless you're using tinned ones) and set aside
  • Roughly chop all herbs and throw them into a big salad bowl, removing any stalky bits
  • Finely slice red onion, chop olives, crumble feta and add the lot to salad
  • Stir through pasta and lentils, add red wine vinegar and crushed garlic clove and mix through, Season with a little pepper
  • Serve warm or cold
This recipe was given to me by my sister, I think it was originally thought up by one of her clever friends. It's a delicious mix of heavy, filling comfort food and fresh, light salad. The dill isn't overpowering, but I think it adds a certain strength of flavour to the dish that the other herbs don't, and let's not forget: cheese and pasta. It's so darn easy, and it's definitely the sort of recipe that can be played around with. Try it with parsley if basil isn't your thing, or substitute the dill for something a little less powerful. Easy as pie, and it's a whole lot better for you than a cheeseburger.

Aside from a particular Simon and Garfunkel track, I can't come up with a herb themed musical tie in to end this post, so I'm going to finish up with these delightful new(ish) video releases from my two favourite New Pornographers. They're my musical food of choice, very good for your ears. I particularly love the new Neko clip, it's oh-so-pretty. Kinda like her.

The Palace at 4am (A.C. Newman)
People Got A Lotta Nerve (Neko Case)


  1. One of my biggest problems with dieting is selecting what to eat. I thought I had it under control until I read an article on one of my favorite weight loss websites OptimalBodyWeight.com.

    According to them you can easily fool yourself into thinking you are eating healthy while you are actually piling up the calories. Their article Eat This Not That to lose weight explains it much better than I can.

    Good Luck, hope it helps.

  2. Oh Tara, look! Our first spam!