Smoky, flavorful roasted eggplant, zucchini, and peppers are combined with pasta, chickpeas, and a basil-infused vinaigrette in this easy one-pot meal.
I think we all make “clean out the fridge” dishes from time to time. Maybe you just got home from a long day at work without having had time to shop, so you make a gourmet dish out of the still-viable carrots, apples, and celery at the bottom of your crisper drawer. Or maybe you’re just determined not to buy more vegetables until you use that last lonely zucchini and the red bell pepper you grew yourself.
In my case, some kind of brain cloud had caused me to buy gargantuan quantities of delicate veggies on Thursday when we were leaving on a 10-day vacation on Monday. Crazy. I realized on Sunday that I’d better use it all up or lose it to the compost pile.
So I did the best thing you can ever do to eggplants, zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms: I roasted them. I stuck them in my toaster oven without actually knowing what the rest of the meal was going to be just because I knew that everything is better roasted. At the very least, they would be the perfect accompaniment to a simple bean dish. But while they were roasting, I caught sight of our flourishing basil and immediately craved pesto.
Rather than go to the trouble of making a true pesto, I simply whirled the basil in the food processor with some balsamic vinaigrette, walnuts, and nutritional yeast, poured that over the roasted vegetables and pasta, and added some chickpeas to make it a one-pot meal.
It was one of those spur of the moment, easy, throw-together meals that turned out to be an instant family favorite. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos, so I filed the recipe away in my mental recipe box to make again later. Later came this weekend when I needed a dish for a potluck dinner. Everyone in my book group seemed to enjoy this pasta salad, which I dressed up with the addition of Kalamata olives. And because it makes a huge amount, there was plenty to go around.
Warm Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Pesto Vinaigrette
- 1 medium eggplant or 1/2 large, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 2 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion coarsely chopped
- 1 head garlic
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper sliced
- 8 ounces mushrooms quartered
- 8 ounces grape tomatoes
- 16 ounces spiral pasta whole wheat or gluten-free
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups cooked, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives optional, pitted and sliced
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts optional
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast optional
- 3/4 cup Fat-Free Balsamic-Raisin Vinaigrette or other fat-free vinaigrette
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425F. Arrange eggplant and zucchini on a non-stick baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle the chopped onion over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the head of garlic in a corner of the baking sheet, and place in the oven. Stir after 15 minutes and add the bell pepper, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Cook until mushrooms have softened and tomatoes are beginning to collapse, about 10 more minutes. Remove from oven, reserve the head of garlic, and place the other vegetables in a very large serving bowl. (If your oven is small, see the Notes below.)
- While the vegetables are cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to vegetables, along with chickpeas and olives, if desired.
- Make the dressing: Place the basil in a food processor. Squeeze out 4-6 cloves of roasted garlic (or however many you like) and add it to the food processor, along with walnuts and nutritional yeast, if you’re using them. Pulse 6-8 times to chop the walnuts. Add the vinaigrette and process until smooth.
- Add dressing to pasta and vegetables, stir well, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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LisaAugust 19, 2013 at 2:48 pm
SylviaAugust 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm
Wow!!! Totally lookin forward to trying this- my toddler would be in heaven. Pasta, chickpeas, and tomatoes… Her three favorite food groups.
Do you think this would hold up ok in the fridge with the dressing?
Or am I better of leaving it separately?
martha@ simple nourished livingAugust 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm
Just received delicious warm pasta salad post in my inbox and have bookmarked it to try very soon. I’m a big fan of clean out the fridge recipes! Thanks so much.
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)August 19, 2013 at 5:41 pm
I make this dish with my bits of leftover pesto in the freezer all the time. It’s always a hit, no matter what combination of vegetables and pesto flavors I use!
moonwatcherAugust 19, 2013 at 6:05 pm
What a wonderful way to use roasted veggies! I really like the idea of adding a prepared vinaigrette as part of the pesto dressing. You’ve got me wondering how my lemony pear vinaigrette (cousin to your apple raisin one) would work in something like this. It looks like a really good dish to serve to a crowd, that’s not a lot of fuss, but combines the roasting with an extra dimension of flavor from the pesto vinaigrette. I’m thinking the roasted tomatoes add a nice juiciness. All the veggies in the photo look so moist and scrumptious I wanted to take a bite. Great pictures!
DinaAugust 20, 2013 at 3:40 am
… Hi Susan … thank you very much for your recipes … i feel warm & happy when ever i get mail from you … i appreciate your effort & your generosity … God Bless you Susan …
LoriAugust 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm
I made this tonight. However, I forgot to buy the basil. So, I just hit it with a little cilantro that I had in the refrigerator. Yummy.
Tami@Nutmeg NotebookAugust 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm
You are so creative! We aren’t big pasta eaters but it could be good with a hearty whole grain such as barley or faro perhaps.
PearlyAugust 25, 2013 at 10:35 am
I will try to buy from your affiliate link 🙂
JennAugust 27, 2013 at 2:03 pm
Made this tonight and was delicious. My boys ate it up. I loved it warm, but had a few bits of the leftovers from the fridge and is very tasty cold as well. They asked if they can have the leftovers in their lunch boxes tomorrow.
kumAugust 30, 2013 at 6:08 pm
I love quinoa. I often eat quinoa with south indian curries.
Thanks for posting incredible vegan dishes!
alex clarksonSeptember 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm
Lovely pasta salad, will try this in my kitchen soon
daisySeptember 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm
This was amazing!!! I made it last night and couldn’t get enough. Had it today for lunch as well. It was just as good cold!
robinAugust 15, 2018 at 10:09 pm
I made it tonight. It was really good.I saw the post on Facebook for this recipe this morning. OH, it’s like you looked in my fridge and knew. I told my daughter last night, I have two zucchini’s, half an eggplant, a basket of baby bellas and 1/2 a basket of grape tomatoes that were all at least 2 weeks old. I don’t want to throw them away. The pesto dressing was a little sweet, so I wonder what I can do about that next time.Less raisins? But again, It was really good, will definitely make again. I didn’t add the chickpeas, but did add the kalamata olives.
ClarissaAugust 30, 2019 at 6:53 pm
I really enjoyed this, but my family was not so keen. My kids wouldn’t eat anymore after the first bite. I’m looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. It was so great to use my fresh garden produce, basil, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers. I don’t even like eggplant, but I braved it and thought it was delicious! I agree with a previous reviewer that the dressing was a tad too sweet. I would also add a little less raisins next time.