Middle-Class Problems: There are 650 calories in a pasta salad!

 

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Really, the pasta salad ought to be the ambrosia of the middle-classes, a portmanteau luncheon of two of our favourite things: pasta that reminds us of our childhood holidays to Tuscany and our delight in the faux-paysan simplicity of it all; and salad that reminds us we are "good" to ourselves – not for us the carb-loading that will give us that glorious glycemic spike before we spend the rest of the afternoon on the floor, desperately pawing for a fizzy drink to pick us back up.

Combine that with the convenience of popping into a supermarket for a cheap lunch, and what could be better?

Pretty much anything, really.

The problem with the shop-bought pasta salad begins with the most important ingredient, the pasta. Is it perfectly al dente, as Gino D'Acampo has taught us? Is it heck as like. It is most often soggy, and coated with so much oil that it's threatening to become a tribute to Deepwater Horizon.

Then comes the salad. Lettuce – and plenty of it, to fill the packaging. Shredded carrot, that bastion of the genre, which is almost impossible to eat without chasing round the bowl and which must add up to about half an actual carrot in total. And of course, in such minute quantity you wonder whether they forgot to add it in, the chicken/tuna/prawns (delete as inappropriate) .

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, there's the calorie count. In one supermarket chicken variety, there's 650 of the buggers. SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY! And you thought you were eating something slimming…

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