Starch isn’t always bad: Tricolor Summer Penne Pasta Salad

March 10, 2017

Resistant Starch pasta salad by Providence Healthy Living

By Kay MacInnis, Regostered Dietitian

Here’s some cool news about the carbohydrates that we love: When they are cooked and then refrigerated, the starch that causes our concern transforms into resistant starch.

That’s a type of starch that resists digestion.

Resistant starches may help the body feel fuller and allow for a steadier rise of blood sugar. This full feeling may persuade you to take in fewer calories, so you might shed a few pounds.

Resistant starch is also a prebiotic. Some people report side effects such as gas or bloating when consuming large amounts of resistant starch, so go slow when adding these to your diet.

Here are some foods you might want to try eating cold, for the resistant starch:

  • Bananas, slightly green
  • Barley
  • Cold bean, pasta, potatoes and rice
  • Corn
  • Cornstarch
  • Legumes
  • Lentils
  • Oats, especially raw
  • Peas
  • Potato starch
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains

Tricolor Summer Penne Pasta Salad


  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • 1 zucchini, seeded and cut into ¼-inch-thick matchsticks
  • 1 yellow squash, seeded and cut into ¼-inch matchsticks
  • 1¼ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil


  • Cook the pasta al dente in a pot of salted boiling water, according to package directions.
  • Add the zucchini, squash, and carrots to the water in the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Add the oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, lightly covering the pasta.
  • Mix in the Pecorino Romano and toss everything together.
  • Top with fresh basil.
  • Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Nutrition Information: 290 Calories, 6.5 grams fat, 6 mg. cholesterol, 50 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams protein, 266 mg. sodium.

(This recipe is from The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka. As always, you can experiment by adding other vegetables such as tomatoes, or if you like, some lean chicken or other protein – as seen in the photo.)


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, S.C.

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.