Summertime is officially here, well maybe there and not here since it’s still mostly in the upper 60′s and cloudy HERE but you are having a great summer right?
I hope so, because I am living vicariously through you and your tan, humidity, shorts and icy cocktails.
You’re probably going to the beach or lake, BBQ’ing, hitting the pool – maybe even the boardwalk! Ahhh, the jealousy!
Summer represents a lot of things: grilling, swimming, picnicking, lounging with friends and parties. Many of which require everyone to bring a dish or a bottle or something tasty. Well, I have got your answer - The Great Big Summer Pasta Salad.
This pasta salad is the perfect party dish! Not only does it feed lots of people (12 large servings or 16 medium servings), it’s incredibly easy to make, low on weight watchers points and filling.
Plus it’s Vegan and Gluten Free Friendly (just sub Gluten Free Pasta) so you can make everyone happy!
- The real secret to this Pasta Salad is having all of your vegetables ready along with your dressing. Cook pasta according to directions and “season” while hot. Then mix everything together and let marinate overnight. The flavors seep into the pasta and the dish is incredible the next day!
- If you don’t have a grill, you could use a grill pan indoors or try roasting all the vegetables in the oven.
- Be sure to use an olive oil mister like this or this to lightly spray the vegetables heading for the grill. Alternately, you could measure a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and brush it on with a pastry brush, just be sure to account for the additional Points Plus values. I do not suggest using non-stick cooking spray!
- Chiffonade is a cutting technique where you stack the leaves (in this case basil), roll them and cut into thin slices. I have some good photos posted in this recipes instructions if you want to see more.
- 2 medium zucchini squash, halved and grilled
- 1 eggplant (approx 1 lb), cut into ½" rounds and grilled
- 1 medium red onion, cut into thick round slices and grilled
- ½ pound asparagus, trimmed and grilled
- 4 ounces shitake mushrooms, grilled
- 6 ounces organic baby spinach leaves
- 1½ cups white beans (or 1 15-ounce can drained and rinsed)
- 25 pitted kalamata olives, cut in half
- 1 jar fire-roasted peppers (not in oil) or 2 roasted peppers, roughly chopped
- 1 pound whole wheat pasta (fusilli or another shape)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons italian seasoning
- 2 medium lemons, juiced
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup packed basil leaves, chiffonade + more for serving
- Prepare zucchini, eggplant, onion, asparagus and mushrooms to be grilled. Trim ends of zucchini and slice in half lengthwise and mist with olive oil, salt and pepper. Trim ends of eggplant, cut into ½" round slices and mist each side with olive oil, salt and pepper. Peel onion, trim ends and cut thick round slices. Mist with olive oil, salt and pepper. Remove stems from mushrooms and mist with olive oil, salt and pepper. I cooked the zucchini, eggplant, onion and asparagus directly on the grill grates but cooked the mushrooms on a piece of tinfoil on the grill so the small pieces didn't fall through. A grill basket is another great and easy idea.
- Cut cooked asparagus into thirds or 2" pieces depending on how long they are. Cube cooked eggplant rounds. Slice cooked zucchini into ½" half-moons and rough chop the cooked red onion and mushrooms. Toss into a large bowl of some sort.
- This is a great time to put up a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
- Toss the (washed) baby spinach leaves into the bowl and start piling on the rest of the ingredients.
- Toss in the white beans (rinsed and drained if using canned), roughly chopped roasted peppers and halved olives.
- Combine salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, juice from 2 lemons (minus seeds) and olive oil in a small bowl. Measure 1 cup of packed basil leaves and chiffonade (see NOTES) the leaves.
- Cook pasta according to directions, drain (drain but DO NOT RINSE) and immediately toss on top of the other ingredients.
- Pour dressing over and toss until evenly distributed and spinach begins to wilt. Transfer to a smaller bowl, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight (or at least all day) before serving.
- Just before serving, toss to redistribute dressing. Serve with more basil on top and Enjoy!