Fresh pineapple and pear give this salad a sweet accent, while balsamic vinegar adds a delightful piquant flavour. With lean ham, cheese, fruit and vegetables all adding their own nutrients to balance the pasta, the result is a marvellous dish.
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50g fine green beans
125g lean cooked ham
1 ripe pear
350g mixed coloured pasta shapes
75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
100g peeled fresh pineapple, diced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons natural low-fat yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon chopped pickled gherkin, or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon caster sugar, or to taste
juice of 1/4 lemon, or to taste
pepper to taste
cayenne pepper (optional)
120g mixed salad leaves, such as endive, rocket, watercress or mizuna
1 tablespoon sunflower oil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons dried cranberries (optional)
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Directions Preparation:20min › Cook:15min › Extra time:10min › Ready in:45min
Top and tail the green beans. Dice the ham or cut it into fine strips, if you prefer. Peel, core and dice the pear.
Cook the mixed pasta shapes in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water, then drain again.
Cook the beans in boiling water for 1–3 minutes or until bright green and just tender, but still crisp. Drain and rinse under cold water, then drain again. Set aside.
Combine the cooked pasta with the Cheddar cheese, ham, pear, pineapple, onion, mayonnaise, yoghurt, gherkin, if using, and sugar. Add a little extra gherkin or sugar, if desired. Mix together well, then adjust the flavour of the dressing with lemon juice, pepper and cayenne pepper, if using.
Dress the mixed salad leaves with the sunflower oil, if using, the balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Divide the dressed leaves among 4 plates and top with the pasta mixture.
Arrange the green beans, walnuts and dried cranberries, if using, around the leaves and serve immediately.