As I mentioned yesterday, I have been craving tangy dressing a lot lately. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been gravitating towards lighter, springy-er dishes. That could be pregnancy related or could be that I’m just really ready to move on from heavy winter dishes (even if I do live in San Diego). Either way, when a friend on a cooking message board I frequent mentioned a pasta salad including asparagus, I was immediately intrigued. Suddenly vegetable pasta salad combinations were just swirling around in my head and I knew exactly what we were having for dinner.
The plan was for me to make grilled chicken and serve it with a large side of this Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad. The look on Jesse’s face when I told him the plan was kind of comical. He was sure that there should be some other side, or something! Much to his surprise (and my delight!) he loved dinner and he even felt full. It just goes to show that dinner doesn’t have to be heavy to be good. The leftovers also made an awesome lunch!
1 – 1 1/2 cups asparagus, chopped into 2-inch bites
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used yellow)
1 small zucchini, chopped
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp Italian dressing (You may decide you need more salad dressing, so keep the bottle handy)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
10 oz. dry pasta (I like bowties for pasta salad and this time I used Barilla Plus)
2-3 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
Additional salt and pepper as needed, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss chopped vegetables in 1 Tbsp Italian dressing (let marinate while the oven is preheating). Spread chopped vegetables out on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften and turn golden brown. Allow vegetables to cool to room temperature.
While the vegetables are cooling. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the dry pasta and cook to al dente according to the box. Drain, immediately rinse with cold water, and drain some more (you don’t want soggy pasta salad).
Once the pasta has cooled and drained, toss with the vegetables, cubed mozzarella cheese, and Italian dressing. If 1/4 cup of dressing doesn’t seem like enough to lightly coat all of the pasta, add a little more at time. This pasta is best if you let it sit for at least an hour before serving (it can also be made a day ahead of time).
Sunny Side Up
Here are a few more lighter side dish ideas!