It can be hard to find a cold, savory packed lunch when you’re on a modified diet. This Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized Greek Pasta Salad is even better the next day, and amazing as a cold lunch for work!
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Modified Packed Lunch
I dread packing my lunch every morning to go to work. You search through the fridge for anything mobile enough to bring, and hope that you have enough time to heat it up during your lunch break.
Because I can’t trust the microwave will be free, I usually bring cold foods for lunch when I know I’m going to have a busy day.
On a modified diet, it can be hard to find foods that are served cold. If you think about it, most of the savory foods that we eat cold are lettuce salads or whole pieces that we bite off, like sandwiches, cheese sticks, and tortilla wraps. These foods are delicious, but they don’t fit a Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized diet.
Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized
Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized is appropriate for individuals who have good tongue control and force and can manage chewing. At this level, the size of each bite is predetermined, and can be appropriate for individuals with some pain or difficulty chewing, or those who may not choose appropriate bite sizes without help.
Food pieces can be no larger than 15mm square for adults or 8mm square for children. Foods must have no separate thin liquid, but should be soft and moist. The pressure from a fork or spoon must be able to mash the pieces easily; this is called the Fork Pressure or Spoon Pressure Test. In these tests, the utensil must be able to easily cut through or break apart the food using only the side of the utensil. When mashing the sample to test, only use as much pressure as causes your thumbnail or fingernail to blanche white. After mashing, the food must not return to its original shape. We recommend watching IDDSI’s Youtube video of the Fork Pressure and Spoon Pressure Test before you cook as well as during the testing of your final modified portion.
Always test your food before serving to ensure that it meets all the IDDSI testing guidelines.
Bite-Sized Pasta Salad
One of the lunches I would make frequently during grad school was bowtie pasta salad. I love how pasta salad gets better as it sits, as opposed to soggy like lettuce.
You can adjust toppings and dressing levels to your heart’s content, and it’s easy to make lunch for all week without spending hours in the kitchen.
I’d been racking my brain about how to modify my favorite pasta salad without the extra work of cutting the pasta down to the correct size when I came across a pasta shape I had never seen before – Salad Macaroni!
Salad macaroni is like the elbow macaroni you see in the blue boxes of mac & cheese, but cut into a much shorter length. It fits perfectly into the soft & bite-size parameters, and works great for our Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized Greek Pasta Salad!
How to Make Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized Greek Pasta Salad
First, start your pasta in boiling, salted water. Cook the pasta to the time recommended on the box, and check to make sure it meets the Fork Pressure Test. I had to cook my pasta an extra minute to make sure it consistently met the test.
In addition to the Fork Pressure Test, I also tested the pasta by smashing it against the roof of my mouth with my tongue. Set pasta aside when it meets soft & bite-sized requirements.
While the pasta is cooking, dice your veggies, pile them in a colander with salt and leave them for 15 minutes to drain. We don’t want the extra water in the cucumber and tomato to dilute our dressing.
Combine the dressing ingredients (garlic, feta, sugar, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper) in a blender.
Add the cucumber and tomato to the blender when drain time is finished. Blend dressing and veggies together until smooth.
Mix dressing and cooked pasta together! Taste and season with more salt or pepper if needed.
If you approximated any of your ingredients, you may need to start with less dressing and add more as it soaks into the pasta. Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized does not allow for mixed consistencies, and we don’t want the pasta to be floating in a soup of dressing. I did find that the dressing soaked in more overnight, and you could always use a slotted spoon to serve to avoid any excess dressing.
Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized Greek Pasta Salad FAQS
Can I use another shape of pasta if I can’t find salad macaroni?
Yes! But you may need to cut down the pasta size after cooking if it is too large. Make sure your pasta is no longer than 15mm.
I’m dairy-free, can I leave out the feta cheese?
Absolutely! Feel free to adjust the dressing to meet your tastes. Leave out the cheese, try a different cheese, or add an olive or two to the dressing for a more traditional greek salad.
Could this recipe be modified to a different level?
You can definitely try! This pasta salad could easily become Level 7: Easy to Chew, but the pasta may be difficult to modify below a Level 5: Minced & Moist. You could try adding some pasta into the dressing and blending together for a Level 4: Puree. Always test your recipes before serving, and let us know if it worked!
We want to hear from you!
Level 6: Soft & Bite-Sized Greek Pasta Salad
- 2 cups dry pasta - use pasta shape less than 15 mm; I used “Salad Macaroni”
- 8 ounces cucumber - about ½ of a medium cucumber
- ¼ pound tomato - about 1 medium roma tomato
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1.5 ounces feta cheese -¼ cup
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- 1.5 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Boil and salt the pasta water. Add pasta to cook while assembling the rest of the salad. When cook time is complete, test the pasta to ensure it meets the fork pressure test. You may need to cook the pasta an extra minute. Drain and set aside.
- Dice cucumber and tomato, set in a strainer over a bowl. Salt with ¼ teaspoon salt, stir, and leave to drain for 15 minutes.
- Combine garlic, feta, sugar, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a blender.
- After draining, add the cucumber and tomato to the blender.
- Blend vegetables, cheese, and dressing together until smooth.
- Add the liquid dressing to the pasta in a large bowl.
- Chill in the fridge before serving. Pasta is even better the next day! Remember to test to ensure that your end result meets Level 6: Soft & Bite-sized requirements before serving.
Did you make this recipe? Let us know how it went below!