This pasta salad mixture is made ahead and then frozen. In the morning, put it directly from the freezer into lunchboxes where it will defrost before lunchtime. Read more uses for this mix in the above post.
- 1 (16 oz.) package of whole wheat penne or rotini
- 12 oz. broccoli florets
- 1 lb. crinkle cut carrots
- 1 lb. cooked chicken breast, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can Great Northern or Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained and rinsed
- 3 Tbsp. Italian Salad Dressing or Olive Oil (plus more for serving)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions except, 4 minutes before it’s cooked, add the broccoli and the carrots (depending on the size of the pot you’re using, you may need to remove some water first to make room). Put the pot back on high and cook for the remaining time. Drain.
- Return the pasta and vegetables to the pot and cover with lots of cold water. Drain and repeat until pasta is cold.
- In a very big bowl or large pot (I use a big stock pot) combine the pasta and veggie mixture with the chicken, bell pepper, 2 cans of beans, and 3 tablespoons of the salad dressing or olive oil.
- Divide the pasta salad among three (1 gallon) ziptop bags. Seal the bags and then lay them flat in the freezer. Every hour or two, go and shake them around so that the bits do not freeze together but instead freeze individually or in very small clumps.
- Once the pasta salad is completely frozen, take each bag out of the freezer and drop it lightly onto a hard surface to further ensure that everything is in small pieces (if it freezes in big clumps it will be hard to get the right amounts out to pack lunches and the bigger clumps will not necessarily defrost in lunchboxes before lunchtime).
- To serve: In the morning, put some of the pasta salad into a lunch container. Optionally drizzle with more salad dressing (1/2 to 1 tablespoon is sufficient for a lunch portion). Seal the box and put it into the lunchbox. It will defrost by lunch time as long as the lunchbox is not very well insulated and the lunchbox is not put into the fridge at school. If your child’s lunchbox is very well insulated or if lunches are kept in the fridge at school, defrost the pasta salad in the fridge overnight or in the microwave in the morning before packing.