I’m not sure who invented the barbeque grill, but I’m pretty certain a woman’s hand was somewhere in the idea- a woman who’s kitchen reached 5,000 degrees whenever she turned on her oven during the summer months. I can completely relate to having a sweltering kitchen, so when the temperature goes up, I do my best to take the heat outdoors.
It’s the end of May and our barbeque grill has already been getting a workout-courtesy of an overly hot Spring in St. Louis. Not only does grilling keep the heat out of my kitchen, it’s really convenient to send my husband, a.k.a. ‘The Grill Master,’ outside with a tray of meat and vegetables and have him turn them into slightly smoky, delicious grilled foods. Things like zucchini, onions, peppers and yellow squash take on whole new flavors when cooked over an open flame. Even my kids, who are not big squash eaters, take another bite when grilling is involved.
To make good use of these grilled vegetables, I’ve come up with a pasta salad that now ranks as one of our new summertime favorite sides. Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Spirals are the basis of this pasta salad and do a great job of catching the vinaigrette in all of their twists and turns. I also like how the whole wheat flavor brings a hearty taste to this grilled vegetable pasta salad.
This salad is relatively simple to make. Start by boiling a large pot of water and cooking about ¾ of a package of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Spirals Pasta.
Slightly undercook the noodles so that they stay al dente. Drain the cooked pasta, about 5 cups worth, and toss it together in a large bowl with the tomatoes, garlic, salt, vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.
Slice up the zucchini, squash and red onion into about 1/3 inch-thick slices. I had some baby bell peppers in my refrigerator, so I just cut them in half. If you’re using full-sized peppers, slice them into thirds before grilling. Be sure to remove the seeds either way. This pasta salad can easily be adapted to other grilled vegetables, so feel free to add or substitute whatever you have on hand.
Toss the vegetables with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse-grained salt. Grill over moderate heat until the onions are barely crisp and starting to caramelize and the peppers, squash and zucchini are crisp tender and slightly charred. The onions take the longest amount of time on the grill, but it is worth the wait to finish them right.
Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, chop them up into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pasta tomato mixture. Toss everything together.
To truly make this a summer pasta salad, basil has to be involved. So, if you are lucky enough to have some growing in a pot or garden somewhere in your yard, clip a large handful of the juicy green leaves. Fresh basil is a must in this recipe, so either beg some off of a neighbor or buy some at the grocery store. Dried basil is not an option.
Grab a hunk of ricotta salata or feta cheese and get ready to put the finishing touches on this delicious pasta dish. Ricotta salata is a slightly salty, semi-hard cheese, much like feta, but not quite as tangy. Either cheese will do nicely in this pasta salad.
Dice the cheese and chop up the basil. Toss it all together with the pasta and vegetable mixture. Yum!
My husband grilled some chicken to round out our meal, but I could have easily eaten this pasta salad alone and been satisfied – it’s that good. I encourage you to give this recipe a try if you are like me and want to get as much of a meal cooked on the grill as possible when the weather gets hot. You get the goodness of whole wheat, veggies, basil and cheese – all put together with minimal effort and best of all, a cool kitchen. Enjoy!
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
- 5 cups cooked Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Spirals pasta (3/4 package, uncooked)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon coarse-grained salt
- 3 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (you can use regular balsamic, but start out with one tablespoon and taste as you add more – white balsamic has a less assertive taste than regular balsamic.)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/3 inch-thick slices
- 2 small yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/3 inch-thick slices
- 1 medium sized red onion, sliced into 1/3 inch thick slices
- 4 baby bell peppers, sliced in half and seeded or 2 regular size bell peppers, sliced into thirds and seeded
- 2/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 cup ricotta salata cheese or feta cheese, diced
Boil a large pot of water and cook Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Spirals until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside. Dice tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and toss together with the garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, olive oil and cooked pasta. Set aside. Grill zucchini, onion, squash and peppers over a medium heated barbeque grill until crisp tender and starting to char and/or caramelize. When vegetables are cool enough to handle, dice into bite-sized pieces and toss together with pasta mixture. Add cheese and basil. Toss gently together. Serve warm or at room temperature. (I ate this pasta salad cold out of the refrigerator and it was tasty that way, too. )