This pasta salad is so colorful, full of vibrant flavor and it makes a TON. Basically, it’s the perfect pasta for summer BBQs, potlucks or picnics. The medley of grilled vegetables and balsamic vinaigrette bring so much flavor to this seemingly simple salad. You can use any vegetables that are in season but I like to make sure I get a good mix of colors. I roasted a pint of grape tomatoes for a pop of red because they were actually less expensive than the red bell pepper that I usually use. This recipe is flexible so use what you have available!
This recipe could be made less expensive by making your own balsamic vinaigrette but I had a lot of cooking to do that day so this is where I took my short cut. Also, if you don’t overpay for your red onion like I did ($1.18 for one onion!), then you’ll also have me beat. Oh, and I also used Barilla Plus penne which is multigrain, has more protein, fiber, omega-3’s and also happens to be about $1 more expensive than generic. I splurged a little.
As I mentioned, this recipe makes a TON. If you want to make half a recipe, I would suggest still grilling all of the vegetables but reserving half for other recipes. Since you are only using one of each vegetable, it would be difficult to cut the amount of grilled vegetables in half. The left over chopped grilled vegetables are great for sandwiches, salads, pizzas or as an addition to marinara sauces! They’re an all around delicious nutrient delivery system!
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
- 1 pint grape tomatoes $1.49
- 5 cloves garlic $0.12
- 1 med. zucchini $0.78
- 1 med. yellow squash $0.69
- 1 med. green bell pepper $0.55
- 1 small eggplant $0.69
- 1 med. red onion $1.18
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided $0.20
- ½ bunch flat leaf parsley $0.77
- to taste salt & pepper $0.05
- 1 box (14 oz.) penne pasta $1.98
- 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette $0.99
- If using roasted tomatoes, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pour the tomatoes out onto a baking sheet with 5 cloves of peeled garlic. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of olive oil over them along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Using your hands, stir it all up to make sure the tomatoes and garlic are well coated in the oil, salt and pepper. Place them in the oven to roast for about 40 minutes. Stir them twice during the roasting process.
- Light the grill or charcoal and allow to heat while you prep the vegetables. Wash and slice the rest of the vegetables. Only slice them into two or three large chunks so they do not fall into the grill (see photo below). I cut the squash, onion and bell pepper into two pieces each and the eggplant into medallions about 1 inch thick.
- Place the sliced vegetables onto another baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining 3 Tbsp of olive oil and another pinch of salt and pepper. Using your hands mix them all up until they are all well coated in the oil. The eggplant will soak the oil up like a sponge so to make sure it is coated you can wipe it on the tray where oil has dripped off of the other vegetables.
- Grill the vegetables until they are slightly charred on the outside and slightly soft but not mushy (see photos below). Return them to the tray and allow them to cool.
- While the vegetables are cooling, begin boiling the pasta according to the directions on the box. While the pasta is boiling, chop the grilled vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces. Coarsely chop about ½ bunch of flat leaf parsley.
- After the pasta has been cooked and drained, allow it to cool slightly. Combine the chopped vegetables, parsley, pasta and 1 cup of balsamic vinaigrette. Stir until everything is evenly coated with the vinaigrette. Refrigerate until ready to serve!
Step By Step Photos
If you are using tomatoes, coat them (and the garlic) with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Roast them at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, stirring twice.
They’ll look all shrively and delicious when they’re done. The garlic will be mushy, caramely and sweet at this point. I kinda mashed/chopped it up and stirred it into the salad at the end.
Light your charcoal and let it get all hot. When it is at least half white/gray (more than what is pictured here), it is ready. Spread it out into an even layer under the rack.
While you are waiting for the grill to heat, cut the vegetables into large pieces and coat them in olive oil, a little salt and pepper.
Grill the vegetables on both sides until they get a little char on them and they soften just slightly.
This is what mine looked like when done. They get really slippery and they’ll try to jump onto the ground, so watch out! Make sure the eggplant is soft and moist. If it is still spongey, leave it on the grill longer. Spongey eggplant = bitter eggplant.
When the veggies are cool enough to handle, chop them into bite-sized pieces. Boil the pasta while the vegetables are cooling.
Also chop about half a bunch of flat leaf parsley.
When the pasta is drained and cooled, combine it with the vegetables, parsley and balsamic vinaigrette.
I’ve been enjoying this pasta all week both hot and cold! Sometimes, I’ve even sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on top! YUM!