Autumn is here, and there’s no better time to grab a blanket, a few friends and a board game or two and head to your local park for a impromptu picnic. Tuck into these two great, low fat, delish salads from the soon-to-be published ?Low Fat Foods Fast? by Lee Gold. A bottle of wine, a BBQ chook and some crusty bread completes the meal. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Pasta is very healthy as long as you do not add rich creamy sauces to it. It forms the basis for this wonderful kaleidoscope of colours, flavours and textures. Pasta is a good source of carbohydrates and B vitamins, useful for slow release energy during sport and physical activity.

  • ? cup plain low-fat yoghurt

 

  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

 

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

 

  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

  • 250g dry macaroni pasta

 

  • 1 cup cooked diced chicken

 

  • 16 Kalamata (black) olives, halved and stoned

 

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted and cooked for 1 minute

 

  • 1/2 medium red (Spanish) onion, thinly sliced

 

  • 1/2 red or yellow capsicum, finely diced

 

  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

To prepare dressing, whisk yoghurt, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook paste for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Cool pasta to room temperature.

In a large salad bowl, toss pasta, chicken, olives, peas, onion, capsicum and parsley together. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Serves 4 to 6.

Warm Vegetable Salad

This delicious vegetable dish is full of vitamins A, C and E, fibre and iron. This healthy combination may help reduce the risk of heart disease and protect against the common colds and influenza.

  • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil

 

  • 1 cup butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1cm cubes

 

  • 8 white mushrooms, cut into quarters

 

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise then cut into 12mm slices

 

  • 6 cups mixed lettuce leaves, washed and dried

 

  • 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

 

  • 2 shallots, finely sliced

 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

 

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

 

  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf (Italian)parsley

 

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a wok and stir-fry pumpkin cubes for 4-5 minutes or until they are seared and golden brown all over. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a wok and stir-fry mushrooms for 2-3 minutes or until they are seared and golden brown all over. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a wok and stir-fry zucchini for 2-3 minutes or until they are seared and golden brown all over. Set aside and keep warm.

In a large bowl, combine lettuce, tomatoes, shallots, pumpkin, mushrooms and zucchini. Mix very well.

In a small jar with a screw-top lid, combine oil, vinegar, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and shake until blended.

Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Makes 4 serves.