My earliest memory of pasta was, macaroni cooked with rice, which we ate with stew and meat or fish. Then, fast forward to University days, and it was quick and filling spaghetti “concoction” - a life saver after a long day of lectures. At my parents’ it was the “go to” lunch on those days when we had run out of "soup".
Pasta, in its different shapes and sizes is still a common staple food in Nigeria. It is mainly cooked with pepper and tomato sauce or eaten with a corn-beef or sardine sauce. I will share a recipe for smoked mackerel pasta salad today; I hope you like it.
Is Pasta Good For You?
Pasta is made from durum wheat flour, which contains more protein and gluten than soft wheat flour, which is used to make bread. This flour gives pasta a unique structure such that its carbohydrates are more slowly released into the blood stream. So, pasta, is actually, a good source of energy.
While there’s nothing wrong in eating pasta in moderate amount, eating a substantial portion however, will cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which could lead to health complications over time. The key to eating pasta is portion control and making sure you combine pasta with healthy sources of protein, fats, vitamins and fibre. Pasta salad is a great way to do this, while ensuring a wholesome and healthy diet.
Pasta salad is usually chilled in the fridge and studies have shown that, it is particularly good as the cooling converts some of the carbohydrates into resistant starch, so our bodies treat it more like fibre, which then leads to smaller spike in blood glucose. A slow rise in blood glucose, leads to slower fall, which makes us hungry less quickly.
Smoked Mackerel Pasta Salad Recipe
This smoked mackerel pasta salad is prepared with fish as a source of protein, as well as green beans and tomatoes, to provide essential vitamins and minerals. The star of this recipe is the mackerel (also known as Titus in Nigeria), which is readily available as smoked fish. It is a nutrient dense, oily fish, which is rich in protein, vitamins and good fatty acids; and is highly recommended to be included in a healthy diet. Adding it to this salad is another way of getting the recommended weekly intake of oily fish.
I hope this recipe inspires you to try pasta salad today. It is perfect for lunch or dinner, and the left-over makes a good packed lunch for the next day. The zingy dressing is simple, easy to make at home and packs a punch, which complements the taste of the smoked mackerel nicely. Feel free to adapt the recipe to suit what is available around you. I have included some recommendations for substitutions.
Mackerel Pasta Salad
- 250 grams Dry pasta
- 200 grams Green beans ends trimmed and cut into smaller pieces
- 10 Cherry tomatoes cut into half
- 1 Smoked mackerel fillet deboned and flaked
- 1 Spring onion thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Oil
- 1 Lemon Juiced
- Salt to taste
- 2 sprigs Parsley shredded
- Cook the pasta according to pack instructions, making sure to add salt to taste.
- Run the cooked pasta under cold water to stop the pasta sticking.
- Boil the green beans in a pot of salted water for about 4 mins and drain.
- Pour the pasta, green beans, tomatoes, mackerel and spring onions into a mixing bowl.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice, add the olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Mix all the ingredients.
- Serve, and garnish with shredded parsley.