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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables

This recipe makes a veritable vat of pasta salad. As much as we liked it, I knew it was too much for the two of us to eat in a reasonable time, so I trucked some to my book club potluck, and they seemed to enjoy it, too.

The recipe is from The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chesman. I love this cookbook. Other great recipes I've tried from it: Bejeweled Squash Cubes (perfect for winter holidays), Cider-Glazed Acorn Squash, Zucchini Chips with Feta and Herbs, Fall Vegetable Tart. There hasn't been a dud yet.

Changes I made: I used all zucchini and ancient sweets (long, slightly sweeter red bell peppers) because we don't like green pepper and I had a giant zucchini from the garden of my friend Keri. I used Vidalia instead of running out to buy shallots. No tomatoes, because my garden is poky. Skipped the olives. Used fresh mozzarella "pearls" from Sam's Club. Added Parmesan. Obviously, there's some flexibility here.


2 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks
2 small yellow squash, cut into matchsticks
1 medium-size green bell pepper, seeded and cut into matchsticks
1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded and cut into matchsticks
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup "white" balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh is best, but not necessary)
1 tsp. sugar (I used a rounded tablespoon)
Salt and ground black pepper
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. penne, twists, ziti or other similarly shaped pasta
1 bunch (10 to 12 oz.) fresh spinach, tough stems discarded, leaves chopped
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup. brine-cured black olives such as Kalamata (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
8 oz. (or more) fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan (my addition)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil/spray a large shallow roasting pan or half-sheet pan.

In a large bowl combine zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers and shallot. In small bowl whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk in 5 tbsp. of the oil until fully emulsified. (Or, dump the vinaigrette ingredients in a shaker and shake your groove thang.) Pour 3 tbsp. of the vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss well. Arrange in a single layer on the pan.

Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally for even cooking. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running water to cool, drain again and transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat. (Note: I used to skip this step in pasta salads to save fat until I read that it helps keep the dressing from soaking in too much.)

Add the roasted vegetables, spinach, tomatoes, olives, basil and mozzarella. Toss well. Chill if not serving soon. (After you've stored it in the fridge, let it rest at room temperature for a bit to take the chill off.)

Just before serving, add the rest of the vinaigrette and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

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