Apr 17

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad Recipe with Salmon, Tomatoes & Herb Dressing for a Half-Marathon



This is it. For me, this weekend marks a culmination of my health and weight loss journey. On Saturday morning, I’ll be rolling out of bed at some godforsaken hour, dragging my tired and sorry self…I mean, my perky and energetic self (think positive, think positive)…onto public transportation and heading to the start line of the Salt Lake City Half-Marathon. (Hence, the large plate of carbo-loading whole wheat pasta salad, complete with protein and veggies.) While this is not my first rendezvous with a 13.1 mile race, there is something different about this one.

When I first started my journey last September, I was not a newbie to running. In fact, I had been running about 4 days per week for several years. But I never ran like I meant it. I would run the same route, huffing and puffing up the same hill (wondering why it never got any easier) and feeling somewhat satisfied when the darn thing was over. Maybe it was watching my husband train for his marathons with such passion, maybe it was because the running became easier as I shed some pounds or maybe it was because I was tired of just doing things in a half-a$$ed fashion. Whatever the reason, something shifted in me.

I started increasing my mileage, getting stronger in strength-training classes and adding in some speed work. Gradually it started paying off…I was feeling great during my runs, sweating like a pig and loving every (okay, almost every) moment of it. Yes, there were days that I overdid it and paid for it the following day. All of that was part of learning what my body could do and how hard I could push it without ending up injured. I have never felt stronger and more energetic.

I am not a fast runner, but that doesn’t really matter right now. Speed is all relative, anyways. Rather than comparing myself to other runners around me, I focus on the improvements that I made. My goal is not just to finish the half-marathon – I do have a specific time in mind. The fastest I’ve ever run a half-marathon is 2 hours 3 minutes. This time, I am REALLY hoping to beat 2 hours. Cutting off 3 minutes is no easy feat, but I’m feeling pretty determined.

Salmon Herb Pasta Salad Collage 1

Part of the pre-race ritual is to carb-up with a big bowl of pasta. I prefer something light, without cream, filled with healthy protein and some fresh vegetables. The dressing, a mixture of fresh parsley, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil is simple and flavorful. This dish will be on the menu on Friday night, fueling me up for my Saturday run.

The best part? My family will be waiting for me at the finish line, and we get to watch our boys run a 1 km race. Whatever happens in the half-marathon, I know that better health and fitness will allow me to enjoy my family and run alongside my boys for years to come. That’s the only finisher’s medal I really need.

The recipe:

The dressing:
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine garlic, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, dried chile flakes, salt and pepper. Pulse until parsley is finely chopped.

With the motor running, slowly pour in olive oil and blend until the dressing mostly smooth.

The rest:
Cook penne according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Immediately toss with three-quarters of the dressing.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add the salmon to the skillet and saute until salmon is just cooked through.


To the pasta, add salmon, tomatoes, myzithra (or feta) cheese and the rest of the dressing. Stir gently to combine.


Season with salt and pepper to taste, as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Other whole grain pasta dishes:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Healthy Lasagne with Turkey, Pesto & Peppers
Cookin’ Canuck’s Whole Grain Penne with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Cauliflower & Capers
The Talking Kitchen’s Goat Brie Arugula Pasta
With a Side of Sneakers’ Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Olive Oil & Roasted Asparagus
The Healthy Foodie’s Chicken & Sundried Tomato Pasta

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Salmon, Tomatoes & Herb Dressing
From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck. www.cookincanuck.com
Serves: Serves 4 to 6
The dressing:
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • ¼ tsp dried chile flakes
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
The rest:
  • 13 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
  • 12 oz. skinless salmon, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 8 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3 oz. myzithra (or feta) cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
The dressing:
  1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine garlic, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, dried chile flakes, salt and pepper. Pulse until parsley is finely chopped.
  2. With the motor running, slowly pour in olive oil and blend until the dressing mostly smooth.
The rest:
  1. Cook penne according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Immediately toss with three-quarters of the dressing.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray.
  3. Add the salmon to the skillet and saute until salmon is just cooked through.
  4. To the pasta, add salmon, tomatoes, myzithra (or feta) cheese and the rest of the dressing. Stir gently to combine.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef April 17, 2012 at 3:48 am

I’m so in awe of what you’ve accomplished. I need to get off my bum and take care of myself like you have.

I love your salad, it looks devine!

I saw the pin button and tried to pin it for you but it came up saying none of the photos were pinable. Did you decide not to allow pinning and forgot to take the button off?


2 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 6:48 am

Thanks so much for your sweet comments, Maureen! I’m sorry to make pinning difficult for you this morning. I forgot to change the photo settings in Flickr to “Public”. It’s fixed now!


3 Becki's Whole Life April 17, 2012 at 5:03 am

Good luck on your run! This pasta salad looks like a perfect way to carb load. That salmon looks beautiful. My family would love this.


4 Jamie April 17, 2012 at 5:04 am

You are so wonderful! We are all proud of you! Speed doesn’t matter at all, what matters is pace, distance and your own strength and health. I love this pasta dish (I’m so pinning it) – we love quick healthy flavorful pasta dishes just like this and tomatoes and feta is the best topping. But I love the addition of salmon and the herb dressing makes it so perfect for spring and summer!


5 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 6:49 am

Thank you, Jamie. I think this is a salad that we’ll become a go-to salad for us this summer. And you’re right – ultimately, my health is the most important thing in the equation.


6 Belinda @zomppa April 17, 2012 at 5:09 am

Awesome pasta!! Have a WONDERFUL time – you are amazing, and your commitment is so incredible!


7 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 6:50 am

Thanks, Belinda! I’m really looking forward to the run and am hoping for the best on Saturday.


8 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar April 17, 2012 at 5:18 am

I love hearing about your weight loss journey, especially now that you’ve developed such a passion for running. I hope you beat 2 hours too! I’m doing a marathon next week and hope to beat 3 hours and 45 minutes. Hopefully we both beat our goals :)


9 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 6:50 am

Katrina, that’s fantastic! You can do it!


10 shelly (cookies and cups) April 17, 2012 at 5:23 am

Good for you at all the running! I wish I could make myself enjoy it…or at least work through it :)
But running or not I could get down with this pasta!


11 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 6:51 am

Thanks, Shelly. I used to despise running with every bone in my body. However, I took it slowly and eventually got to the place where I really enjoyed it.


12 Bri April 17, 2012 at 6:52 am

Good luck on your half, can’t wait to hear about it! The pasta looks delicious, it may be on our table for dinner tonight! 😀


13 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Thanks, Bri. I’ll be sure to post an update nexxt week.


14 Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables April 17, 2012 at 6:55 am

This looks so delicious Dara! And good luck on Saturday!


15 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Thanks, Emilie. I’m looking forward to it!


16 Meeta April 17, 2012 at 6:55 am

Absolutely brilliant! Feel good about yourself and reaching this goal. Proud of you and the road you have traveled. Remember there’s a whole bunch of us here cheering on for you this Saturday – think of us when you cross the line! ;o) Hugs!


17 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Thanks so much, Meeta. Believe me, those virtual cheers mean so much to me!


18 Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch April 17, 2012 at 7:00 am

You are so inspiring, Dara! This dish looks amazing, but I’m even more impressed with you!!!


19 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Awww – thank you, Robyn. I think the same can be said for you, my fellow red-faced runner. :)


20 marla April 17, 2012 at 7:08 am

How wonderful that your family will be at the finish line + your boys will run the 1km. Dara I am so proud of your friend. Watching your happiness and success here at the virtual sideline is a true treat!


21 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Thanks you, my friend. I can’t wait to watch the boys do their thing in the 1k.


22 Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray April 17, 2012 at 7:19 am

This sounds delicious–and totally more my idea of a pre-half marathon pasta dish than a giant creamy pasta bowl (oof). I hope you’re already proud of yourself for all of the work leading up to the half–the race itself will just be icing. I hope your family has big hugs waiting for you at the finish. :)


23 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I agree, Tara. Creamy dishes do not sit well on race day. I am indeed proud of myself and can’t wait to see my family’s smiling faces at the finish line.


24 kelley April 17, 2012 at 7:21 am

Dara, you are going to ROCK this weekend. Wishing you a great race and can’t wait to hear all about it! xx


25 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Thanks so much, Kelley. When you see me, I may be ready for a serious nap. :)


26 Julia {The Roasted Root} April 17, 2012 at 7:27 am

Congratulations for sticking with your training program and good luck at your race on Saturday! I have a bike race on Saturday, and was thinking yesterday about what meal Friday night would be good for an energy boost – I think you have a winner here! Good luck at your race and thanks for the great recipe to fuel both of us on Saturday!


27 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Thank you, Julia. Good luck in your bike race!


28 Bev Weidner April 17, 2012 at 7:49 am

This looks INSANELY good. Oh my word. Just stop it!


29 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Thank you, Bev. I have to say that it was darn good.


30 Emily @ She Makes and Bakes April 17, 2012 at 8:12 am

Good luck Saturday! It’s amazing how far you’ve come!


31 Vickii April 17, 2012 at 8:50 am

Good luck! I bet you smash your 2 hour target time!
I’m running my first marathon this Sunday – eek! This sounds like a great night before meal!


32 Paula- bell'alimento April 17, 2012 at 9:17 am

That is so awesome Dara! You are such an inspiration and one of the reasons I have started to get back to exercising! xoxo


33 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Paula, I’m so happy to hear that. There’s no better feeling than moving your body and getting stronger.


34 SeattleDee April 17, 2012 at 9:43 am

Woo hoo! you rock for seeing your goal through to the finish. Enjoy the run, celebrate a year of meaningful accomplishments and be proud of the example you have set for so many others.


35 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Thanks so much. It indeed has been a satisfying 6 or 7 months, and I hope to continue to push myself for many more to come!


36 Andrea M April 17, 2012 at 9:49 am

wow this looks amazing! and good luck!! can’t wait to hear how you did – you will feel like an unstoppable superhero when you finish and regain feeling in your hands :) and then want to do it again (someday). YAY!


37 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Ha! That’s so true, Andrea. I always have to remind myself to shake out my arms occasionally when I’m doing a long run.


38 Linda Wright April 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

Good luck and HAVE FUN on Saturday, Dara! And thanks, as always, for inspiring us with your recipes and your stories!


39 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Thanks so much, Linda. I’m really looking forward to Saturday. There has been a long lead-up to this race and I’m feeling ready!


40 Becky April 17, 2012 at 9:59 am

Good luck! It feels amazing when you finally bust that 2-hr time! It wasn’t until lucky #13 that I finally did it!


41 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Way to go, Becky! I hope to follow in your footsteps.


42 Cassie April 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

Wow, this is a great meal. I wish you much luck this weekend, your journey has been so inspirational! I’ll be thinking about you!


43 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Thank you, Cassie! Let’s hope these carbs carry me through the race.


44 Rachel @ Baked by Rachel April 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

Good luck this weekend Dara! You’re going to do fantastic and everyone is beyond proud of you :) Cheering you on from afar!


45 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Thank you, Rachel! I’ll be feeling your cheers and I know they’ll help me get to the finish line.


46 Aggie April 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

So exciting! I’m so stinkin proud of you!

This pasta looks so fab. I love that shot of the salmon! Delicious!


47 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Thank you, sweet Aggie. One of these days, we’re going to have the chance to run together.


48 Brian @ A Thought For Food April 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

First off, best of luck as you run your half marathon. There are a few things I will probably never do (just because they just aren’t for me), and one is running any great length. With that being said, I think it’s completely admirable and you should be really proud of yourself for even doing it!

Oh, and can we talk about how yummy this recipe looks! That dressing alone looks solid… but with the pasta and salmon… well, I’m all over this dish.


49 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Thank you, Brian. I’m looking forward to the race and will be glad to have this pasta (and the dressing!) fueling me through it.


50 Abby April 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Good luck! This is the perfect pre-run or post – run dinner, I’m running my second half marathon next weekend so I know how you feel!


51 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Way to go, Abby! I’ll be thinking of you.


52 Liz April 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

You can do it, Dara!!! Wishing you tons of luck this weekend. And thanks for sharing another magnificent, healthy dish!


53 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Thanks so much, Liz. I have a feeling this dish is going to become a go-to meal at our house.


54 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective April 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Dara, I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to hear all about your race!! Gorgeous dish, by the way…


55 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious April 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Gorgeous salad. I love having lots of good protein in my salad, and salmon is just perfect. Can’t wait to give this a try!


56 KalynsKitchen April 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I will be cheering you on! And I doubt I could even run 1.3 miles, so I am suitably impressed.

I just made a pasta salad with tuna; we must be channeling each other!


57 Kankana April 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Can’t wait to come back and read about how your run was. You will do amazing .. I know! And the pasta salad sounds absolutely delicious.


58 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. April 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm

congrats to you! I am so excited and happy for you! This looks wonderful


59 Erika {In Erika's Kitchen} April 17, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I’ve been trying to psych myself up for a couch-to-5k attempt…I will come back and read this post again and again until I finally do it. You go girl!


60 Sara{OneTribeGourmet} April 17, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Congrats on your accomplishments! I’m also trying to work out more & eat healthier every day! Baby steps but we all have to start somewhere!
I would totally make this pasta dish, as my Cardiologist hubby would approve of Salmon for its omega 3 fatty acid and the healthy whole wheat pasta! :)


61 Priscilla | She's Cookin' April 17, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Congrats and good luck in the marathon, Dara! Most of all, have fun – running is not something I can do, but I have gotten back in the gym this year. This dish will do you right – love salmon; morning, noon, or night :)


62 Diane {Created by Diane} April 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm

this looks wonderful and sounds delicious. I’m sure with all your hard work, no matter what you’re time, you will know you did well :) just look at you. You look great, feel better, more energy in my book you already WON!!!!


63 Kaitlin April 17, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I’ve never commented before but I love your blog and just wanted to say good luck! This pasta looks amazing!


64 Cindy @ Once Upon a Loaf April 18, 2012 at 5:16 am

This looks unbelievably delicious, so much so that I’m going to make this tonight!! Thanks for this post and you are going to ROCK IT on Saturday. This is your NEW first half-marathon – run it with no limits and see what you can do. Just be safe. I know you will be. I’ll be running every step with you in spirit and will have my running friends send you energy!


65 Chris @ The Keenan Cookbook April 18, 2012 at 5:58 am

I love that you are sharing this journey with us, it really is so inspiring. Congratulations and good luck on race day. I think you have a great attitude – who cares how fast or how good other runners do. It’s all about your story and how far you’ve come. Have fun! And thanks for this delish pasta recipe. Even us non runners can enjoy :)


66 Russell at Chasing Delicious April 18, 2012 at 7:41 am

I’m beginning to wonder if you raid my brain and pick my favorite ingredients for your recipes. I adore salmon, love feta, can’t get enough tomatoes, and who wouldn’t love that dressing? Ooh. In fact I just remembered I have some salmon. Totally thinking about making this for lunch. Ok I’m done thinking aloud. Lovely dish!


67 Jeanette April 18, 2012 at 7:59 am

Good luck on your race Dara and congrats on coming this far. This pasta salad would make a nice picnic salad for the summer too.


68 Carolyn April 18, 2012 at 8:28 am

Dara, I am so, SO proud of you and so excited for you. I wasn’t a runner myself until a few years ago, so I know every bit of work this took for you. Hey, maybe someday we will be at a conference together where we can go for a run! I think Blogaway might kill us with the altitude, though. Or at least me, coming from sea-level Boston!


69 sweetsugarbelle April 18, 2012 at 8:40 am

Dara, you inspire me! This looks delicious. My mouth is watering!


70 kellypea April 18, 2012 at 9:59 am

Good for you! I am always in awe of those who work toward running a marathon. Although I enjoy walking long distances, I’ve never had the desire to run so have to live vicariously through people like you. Yummy pasta salad! I’ve been looking for new ways to try salmon. Good luck to you in your race and congrats to you for all your hard work!


71 Rachel Cooks (formerly Not Rachael Ray) April 18, 2012 at 10:21 am

What an accomplishment. Congrats!


72 Kim | At Home With Kim April 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Hi Dara, I’m new to your site {my friend Aggie of Aggie’s Kitchen introduced me to it}…. Congratulations on your weight loss and on you half marathon. What a great feeling it will be to get to that finish line! Last year I went through a similar journey of weight loss and running was a big part of what helped me. I signed up for a 1/2 in May but won’t be running due to back issues. For now I’m enjoying shorter distances but hope to one day feel that thrill of accomplishment at the end of a 1/2! Best of luck!!!! So glad to have found your site and look forward to being a regular reader.


73 Kathy - Panini Happy April 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Wishing you all the best this weekend, Dara!!!


74 RavieNomNoms April 19, 2012 at 8:59 am

Your pasta look irresistible!


75 lint April 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm

What a delicious collection of recipes. Every single one looks bette than the last.


76 Deborah April 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I can’t wait to hear how it goes!! And I want to enjoy a bowl of this even though I’m not running! :)


77 Krista April 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Dara, you are amazing!! This salad looks perfect before a race. I’ve got my half coming up in June and I am so not ready. After a series of events over the past couple months that made my life crazy(er) I haven’t been training. Most of it is I just need to get off my butt. :) Can’t wait to see you in a couple weeks at Camp Blogaway!


78 kita April 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm

First, I love using salmon in pasta. Its delicious creamy and beautiful with this herb dressing and whole wheat pasta (which don’t tell the BF but I have been sneaking in a lot lately).
Second, I totally get what you mean by running like you mean it. I have never considered myself one to exorcise, but this year we took up mountain biking. BF was cross country in high school, I never did sports. I have always been active but never felt the need to be ‘extra’ active. I am loving the energized feeling and how much more open my lungs feel after a great hard fast paced ride. We are going a little longer every day.
Third – You will do great tomorrow!!! Best of luck. :)


79 Hielspoor October 23, 2013 at 2:49 am

This looks so delicious! ^^


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