Today I am invited to a dinner on a boat and I was asked to bring a salad. I am not an expert on Cesar salads and dressings so I decided to make a pasta salad with roasted vegetables. Very summery and perfect to prepare ahead.
- 1 lb pasta
- 1 eggplant
- 3 zucchini
- 2 bell peppers
- 3 tomatoes
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- olive oil
- I took an eggplant, 3 zucchini, 2 red bell peppers (yellow ones would also be great) and 3 tomatoes. I sliced the eggplant, the zucchini and the tomatoes width-wise in slices about 2 inches thick and I placed the vegetable slices and the whole peppers on the barbecue to grill.
- I used the barbecue because I was already grilling something else for dinner, but you can as well use the oven or an iron grill pan on the stove with basically the same results. Obviously the different vegetables have different cooking times: 1 minute per side for the tomatoes slices, 3 to 5 minutes per side for the zucchini and the eggplant slices, 20 to 30 minutes for the peppers, turning it 3 or 4 times so that is roasted on all the sides.
- All the vegetable should be very soft when you get them off the grill: the pepper should collapse as soon as you take it out of the heat, the tomatoes should be almost the consistency of the ones in chunky tomato sauce and zucchini and eggplants should be soft.
- Once you are done grilling put the peppers in a paper bag to cool down (I don't know why, but it makes it much easier to peel it), dice the eggplants, zucchini and tomatoes, and, once cooled down, peel, seed and dice the pepper.
- Season the vegetables with basil, 3 or 4 whole cloves of garlic (do not mince or cut the garlic), salt and a lot of olive oil. At this point you can let the vegetable sit in your fridge for up to a day before adding pasta.
- Now cook about 1 pound of pasta, short pasta like penne, rotini or bow-ties works best, in hot boiling salted water. Make it "al dente", the cooling down and marinating process will make the past a little softer so if you overcook it by the time you eat your salad it will be very mushy.
- To cool the pasta down you can either rinse the hot pasta in running cold water (fast method, but it washes away some of the flavor) or let the pasta sit in a strainer and add a bit of olive oil (with this method the past will keep cooking until is cold, so make it extra al dente). When pasta is cold and you are almost ready to eat (if you let the past in the marinating vegetable for too long it will soften and become mushy) add it to the marinating vegetable and enjoy!
- This much past salad can serve a party of about 10-15 people at a potluck or 5-6 people as an entree at a seated dinner.
Other things you can add to the pasta salad, if you like them, are mozzarella (the one shaped like balls and preserved in water, not the Kraft mozzarella sticks), crushed red pepper, black pepper, and/or capers.