Zucchini, tomatoes and basil – Oh my! Gardens all over the Midwest are bursting at the seams with zucchini, tomatoes and basil this time of summer and I have a great recipe to put all three to good use. This Veggie Rotini with Grilled Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil is easy to put together and is filled with the fantastic summer flavors only local or home-grown vegetables can produce.
I decided to use Hodgson Mill Veggie Rotini in this dish to up the vegetable ante even further and because they’re fun to cook with. My kids all have favorite colors – the girls love the orange and red rotini (tomato and beet) and my son thinks it’s so cool to eat green noodles (spinach). There are some plain rotini noodles in the mix, but the red, orange and green noodles are definitely the winners with my kids. They all taste great to me.
The first thing you need to do to get this pasta dish underway is make a garlic paste. Garlic and salt are combined to make a paste through a smashing/scraping method which makes the salt and garlic flavors blend more easily with the remaining ingredients.
To make the paste, chop the garlic and salt together on a large cutting board. Then, using the flat edge of the knife, drag the garlic and salt across the cutting board so they’re smashed/scraped together. Repeat dragging the knife back and forth until a paste has formed. It took me about 8 passes of the knife.
Put the garlic paste in a large bowl and add the tomatoes, onion, vinegar and oil. Toss together. This mixture serves as a tomato vinaigrette for the pasta. Set it aside to allow the flavors time to meld.
Then slice the zucchini and put it into a medium-sized bowl with a little bit of olive oil. Toss together until the zucchini is well coated.
There are several ways you can approach cooking the zucchini. You can steam the slices until they’re crisp tender, sauté them until they’re crisp tender or grill them until they’re crisp tender– either in a grill pan or on a barbeque grill. In keeping with summertime cooking, I chose to grill my zucchini to get a smoky flavor in the squash. I used my grill pan because I didn’t want to bother with getting the charcoal set up since zucchini cooks so quickly, but either way works great. Whatever method you choose, crisp tender is the name of the game.
Grill the zucchini slices in batches for 1-2 minutes on each side or until – you guessed it - crisp tender. Transfer the cooked zucchini to a cutting board.
Once the zucchini is cool enough to handle, cut it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Next, chop the basil into small pieces- not minced. I’m using a combination of purple basil and green basil, but feel free to go all green or all purple. It all tastes about the same - I just like the extra pop of color the purple basil adds to this dish. Set aside.
Cook the Hodgson Mill Veggie Rotini in a large pot of salted water until just tender, about 7 minutes.
Drain the pasta well and add it immediately to the tomato mixture. Toss everything together and then add the zucchini, basil and cheese. Gently toss and season with salt and pepper to taste.
This Veggie Rotini with Grilled Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil tastes great warm, but can easily be made ahead of time and left covered at room temperature for up to four hours in advance.
The zucchini, tomatoes and basil definitely take center stage in this dish, but it’s the Hodgson Mill Veggie Rotini that pulls everything together. I love how the twists and turns in the rotini soak up all of the flavors in the tomato vinaigrette and how the ricotta salata cheese nestles into the tiny crevices for a salty little kick. Having colorful pasta definitely piques my children’s interests and gives me another way to get lots of vegetables onto their plates. Whether you grow your own zucchini, tomatoes and basil or pick some up at a local market, this is a great summer recipe to have on hand. I served this Veggie Rotini with Grilled Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil as a main meal, but it could easily be a tasty side dish as well. No matter how you serve it, this Veggie Rotini with Grilled Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil a winning combination. Enjoy!
Veggie Rotini with Grilled Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil
- 1 1/2 lbs cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced and mashed to a paste with 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 lb zucchini, cut into 1/3 in. thick slices
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb Hodgson Mill Veggie Rotini Spirals
- 6 oz Ricotta Salata cheese, or feta cheese, diced
- 1 1/2 cups basil, fresh leaves, chopped into small pieces
In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, onion, garlic paste, vinegar and ¼ cup olive oil together. Set aside. Toss the zucchini slices with the olive oil in a large bowl. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat and grill the zucchini in batches for 1-2 minutes per side or until crisp tender. Transfer zucchini to a cutting board to cool. Once zucchini is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta well and add immediately to tomato mixture. Toss well and add zucchini, cheese and basil. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve pasta warm or at room temperature. Pasta can be made up to four hours in advance, covered and kept at room temperature until ready to serve. This dish is best eaten the day it’s made.
Adapted from Epicurious.com/Gourmet Magazine
Makes 6 main dish servings or 8 as a side dish