Pasta salads. They’ve never been my thing…until now. Instead of a thick, creamy dressing common to most pasta salads, I opted for a balsamic, basil & parmesan dressing with some sambal oelek (chili paste) for a little heat. The results were delish, making this a perfect salad for a relaxing summer barbie.
What makes this salad so fabulous, apart from the wonderful array of summery flavors, is the make-ahead aspect. The veggies can be grilled & marinating happily in the fridge a day ahead of serving. I love, love, love make-ahead.
Hopefully you’re not grilling your veggies out in 95 degree heat & humidity like I was here in steamy Florida. I would happily have thrown myself naked into a snow bank that day. So sorry about that visual.
The veggies, once grilled become little sponges soaking up all that balsamic sweetness. These are really good served just like this as part of an antipasta platter.
I’m yet to make wheat-free/gluten pasta from scratch. Until I do I’ve found a couple of pretty decent pastas in the grocery store – corn (which I used in this recipe & a rice variety (their website is awful but the Tinkyada products are good). The gluten-free pastas now are infinitely better than they were years ago. When I was 15 & on a strict food intolerance diet, there wasn’t much choice & alternative food like there is today. Today gluten-free pastas & breads are becoming mainstream. You could easily take this salad to a pot luck or serve it at your next cookout & no one would even notice the pasta was gluten-free.
- 24 oz (680g) eggplant, sliced lengthways (about 1 large eggplant)
- 20 oz (566g) zucchini, sliced lengthways (about 3 medium zucchini)
- 2 large bell peppers (capsicum), halved & seeds removed
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil for brushing on veggies
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb (450g) penne pasta (I used corn)
- 3 oz (85g) goat cheese, broken up
- small basil leaves for garnish
- BASIL DRESSING
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sambal oelek (chili paste)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- pinch salt & freshly ground pepper
- To make the dressing: Put all ingredients in a small bowl. Use a hand-held blender to blend until smooth. Or use a stand blender; set aside.
- Preheat BBQ to medium-high. Brush veggies with a little olive oil. Cook eggplant & zucchini about 3 minutes each side until softened & grill marks appear. Chop into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces. Place in medium bowl.
- Cook peppers, skin-side down, 3 to 4 minutes until blackened & blistered. Peel away skin & discard. Cut flesh into thin strips. Add to other veggies. Cover & refrigerate 1 to 3 hours; stirring occasionally.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente. Cool under cold running water. Drain thoroughly. Drizzle with a little oil to prevent pasta sticking together, if desired.
- Toss pasta & marinated veggies together. Arrange on a platter. Top with cheese & basil leaves.