Perfectly charred bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, and zucchini help to make up this Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad. Tossed with a simple homemade dressing, it’s a perfect summer side!
I really wanted to wait until the middle of summer to make this pasta salad. We are looking to buy an outdoor grill, and it would have been the first thing I used it for. But, since it seems that John.e and I can’t agree on what grill to get just yet, I decided to go ahead and make it anyway.
For Christmas this past year, John.e got me a Breville grill press, which I’ve been using non-stop! It was begging for me to grill the vegetables on it. The salad you see in the photos use grilled vegetables prepared with an indoor grill, but you can use your outdoor grill too.
HOW TO MAKE THIS GRILLED VEGETABLE PASTA SALAD
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad is extremely easy to make. The only thing that really requires much attention and effort is the grilling part. Cooking pasta is easy and everyone pretty much knows how to do it already. If you don’t, the best advice is to follow the instructions on the package of pasta you’re using. And of course, always test by tasting a minute or two before the cooking time is up. This is vital if you prefer pasta that is al dente.
Preparing the dressing for this pasta salad is extremely easy as well. You can prepare it while the vegetables are grilling or while the pasta is cooking. Basically, I just pour the olive oil into a bowl. I add the salt, ground black pepper, dried red chili flakes, basil, and celery salt. I whisk it all together and set it aside until I need to toss it with the veggies and pasta.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR GRILLING PERFECT VEGETABLES
If you’ve been baking and cooking for some time, I’m sure you already know that pre-heating is key! Just like when you bake a cake, preheating a grill is vitally important for several reasons, but there are two reason I’ll discuss now.
First, preheating a grill will prevent the vegetables from sticking. When the grill is hot, and the vegetables are placed on it, it will instantly begin to sear the flesh of the vegetable. This sear not only adds flavour and looks pretty, it also prevents the veggies from sticking.
Secondly, preheating the grill will pretty much eliminate the need to overcook anything, not just veggies! If you place the veggies on a cold grill and turn on the heat. Before you get those awesome grill marks, the vegetables are already starting to cook from the building heat on the grill. This might overcook the veggie and make it mushy. Nobody wants mushy grilled vegetables.
Another thing that I never do when grilling vegetables is to marinate them or allow them to sit in olive oil. I find that this makes for a mushy vegetable as well. Especially a vegetable like zucchini, eggplant, or mushrooms. The oil will soak into the flesh and you’ll be left with oily, mushy veggies.
GRILLING AND SEASONING
Just like in all types of cooking, when grilling, it’s important to season as you go along. So, just like you would have seasoned the pasta water wtih salt, you’ll need to season the veggies with salt and pepper as you grill them. Here’s what I do:
I don’t like to use too much oil when grilling. I want just enough to adda bit of flavour, prevent sticking, and to help with the blistering. Once all of my veggies are prepared, I like to lay them out onto a wire baking rack with a baking sheet underneath it.
Because I was using an indoor grill, I had to grill in batches. Your outdoor grill might be large enough to accommodate all of the veggies. I like to use a silicone pastry brush to brush the oil on the veggies. I sprinkle over a little bit of salt and pepper. Then, using tongs, I flip the veggie over and place it on the grill. Before turning the veggies over to grill the other side, I brush with oil once again and season with salt and pepper.
Once the veggies are grilled to your liking, remove them from the grill and place them back on the wire cooling rack. This allows air to get all around them and will help to cool them down. If you pile them into a bowl or on a plate, they will stay warm longer. But, worse than that, the combined residual heat will create a steam and your veggies will be an overcooked, mushy mess!
This is a room temperature pasta salad. Allow the veggies to cool for 15-20 minutes before tossing them with the cooled pasta and the dressing mixture.
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
For the Grilled Vegetables:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 small white onion, skin removed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 large zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch rounds
- 1 large red bell pepper, quartered, seeds and stem removed and discarded
- 1 large green bell pepper, quartered, seeds and stem removed and discarded
- 1-2 large jalapenos, sliced 1/4 inch rounds
For the Dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- 450 grams bowtie pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled
- Once the vegetables are prepared, preheat grill to 425 degrees.
- Brush veggies with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill both sides until golden brown grill marks are achieved. The time will be different for each vegetable: onions 3-5 minutes each side; zucchini 2-3 minutes each side; bell peppers 5-7 minutes each side; jalapeno 3-4 minutes each side.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool. Do not pile in a bowl or overlap.
- While the grilled vegetables are cooling, cook the pasta. Drain and rinse under cold running water to cool. Set aside.
- Next, whisk together the salad dressing ingredients. Set aside.
- Once the veggies are cooled, chop the bell peppers into bite-sized pieces. Roughly chop the grilled onions.
- To assemble, transfer the drained pasta to a large bowl. Add in the grilled veggies, chopped parsley, and pour over the dressing. Toss gently to coat.
- Serve at room temperature.