recipe

Chicken Sausage Brown Rice Pasta Salad

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This gluten-free Chicken Sausage Brown Rice Pasta Salad is made with brown rice pasta and veggies. It’s a healthy salad that’s perfect for weekly meal prep!

Between our anniversary, my birthday, family parties, and everything else in between, it’s been hard to keep my healthy eating habits in check this summer.  I’ve eaten way too much ice cream – that’s for sure – and definitely started to feel it! 

I mean, I’ve made a ridiculously delicious S’mores Ice Cream Sandwich Cake a few weeks ago and had two back-to-back Mr. Softee dipped ice cream cones at my nieces’ joint birthday party (it was so worth it, at the time).  Not to mention that ice cream has been on sale nearly every week at the grocery store.  I’ve had more than enough of my fill!

So I’m restarting the Fast Metabolism Diet as a reset for my body.  But I’m doing my own version of it.  I’m still following the schedule of Monday and Tuesday being fruit and healthy carb days, Wednesday and Thursday being protein days, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday being focused on healthy fats.  I’m just not being as strict about it. 

Since pasta salads are always a summer staple for us, I decided to make a healthier version based off a FMD pasta recipe for Chicken Sausage Fusilli.  Just like the FMD recipe, this pasta salad uses brown rice fusilli.  It’s a little stickier than traditional pasta, but it’s gluten-free and just as filling and satisfying! 

The trick in making brown rice pasta is not to overcook it or it’ll become mushy.  Draining the pasta and rinsing it with cold water stops the cooking process and gives you that perfect pasta texture!

The “bulk” of this Chicken Sausage Brown Rice Pasta Salad

 
I included the chicken sausage in my pasta salad to bulk it up and add a good dose of lean protein.  Then, I tossed in a bunch of veggies like fresh broccoli florets, roasted red peppers, zucchini, and onions.  I dressed my salad with lemon juice and Italian dressing seasoning.  Before serving, I added a little chopped parsley for some added freshness.  

Oil isn’t restricted on the FMD, but it’s mostly reserved for “healthy fats” days. So I skipped adding it to my lemon dressing. I didn’t want to saturate my pasta.  I just wanted to give it some flavoring.  You can definitely tweak the dressing, or use your favorite pasta salad dressing, if you feel it needs more.

Chicken Sausage Brown Rice Pasta Salad

Chicken Sausage Brown Rice Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. brown rice fusilli pasta
  • 3 sweet Italian chicken sausage links, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 generous cup broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup roasted red pepper strips, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup zucchini, seeded and cubed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, or Italian dressing seasoning

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare the brown rice fusilli according to the package. Don't overcook the pasta and rinse with cold water as soon as it's done to stop the cooking process.
  2. Add the pasta to a large bowl or container.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of water and the chicken sausage to the pan. Cook until completely and browned on the outside, about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken sausage to the pasta bowl. Then, add in the vegetables.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and Italian seasonings.
  6. Pour over the pasta salad, mix to combine, and serve.
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When I first put this pasta salad together, I think I expected it to be a bit bland and boring. But it’s so fresh, so satisfying, and has a nice flavor to it, thanks to the chicken sausage and simple lemon dressing.  Eat it cold or leave the lemon dressing out and reheat this as a warm pasta dish.

Whether or not you’re on a special diet, you can’t deny a good pasta salad during the summer!  They’re perfect for meal prepping and taste better by the day! 

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