I love summertime.
I love that the days are longer, the sun is brighter, the weather is warmer (sometimes too warm mind you), the baseball bats are cracking at the local ballparks, the kids are out of school and the school buses are off the roads, and for just a brief few weeks, you can sit out on your porch and watch the lightning bugs flit across your back yard. Summertime is simple and always makes me feel a little reminiscent and nostalgic for childhood.
As an adult, summertime brings my annual trip the beaches of Hilton Head, SC, nights of alfresco outdoor dining, gatherings of friends and family, BBQs, and the countdown begins for college football in the fall.
Memorial Day weekend is the gateway to summertime. It’s that first weekend where you can literally feel that, yes, summer has arrived.
To commemorate the long weekend, I made this fresh and delicious pasta salad and it couldn’t have received any more praise. So yummy and so versatile!
Recipe for Roasted Veggie Pasta Salad with Balsamic dressing
- 1 pound short, organic pasta (penne, macaroni, ziti, rigatoni, farfalle)
- 1/2 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and small diced
- 1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, chopped and petalled
- 2 grilled chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup small cubed hard cheese (Parmesan, Asiago, Gruyere, Cheddar, etc)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- a few splashes apple cider vinegar (1-2 Tablespoons give or take)
1. For the dressing, combine mustard, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil and whisk until combined. The mustard will completely emulsify this dressing and it won’t separate on you. Add salt and pepper.
2. Boil your water and prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain completely, pour into large bowl, and toss with just enough dressing to coat each noodle.
3. Now for the veggies! Toss the potatoes and onions with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast the potatoes and onions at 400 degrees until tender and just starting to brown. Add the green beans to other side of pain and roast for additional 10-12 minutes or until beans are lightly browned, but still crisp. Allow to cool slightly.
Yum! I could eat these just as is.
4. Add cubed grilled chicken*, cubed cheese, and all the warm veggies to pasta bowl. Add remaining dressing and toss to coat.
So delicious, so colorful, so delicious and a complete meal! I served mine with a fresh fruit salad, but would be great with a tossed green salad, or just a big hunk of bread. Toasty bread always counts for a side dish. 🙂
*A note on the grilled chicken– I had 2 leftover grilled chicken breasts from a meal earlier in the week. I place them in a foil packet and heated them through in the oven with the veggies for about 10-12 minutes, same amount of time as the green beans. If you do not have leftover chicken, I do think the salad is perfectly fine being vegetarian, but you could certainly add some baked chicken, a few pieces of rotisserie chicken, or grill up a few chicken breasts the day you are wanting to prepare this dish.
- Roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cubed, and fresh chopped basil for a real, bright and summery Italian- inspired pasta salad
- Roasted green beans, asparagus, butternut squash, and toasted pumpkin seeds in the fall
- Grilled shrimp, grilled fresh corn, fresh chopped tomatoes, and roasted green beans
- Or, want to go Asian? Replace the balsamic with low-sodium soy sauce and add cooked shrimp or chicken with snow peas, chopped carrot, bean sprouts, roasted broccoli, a can of drained water chestnuts, and top with toasted peanuts or sesame seeds. How about a Mexican inspired pasta salad? Replace the balsamic vinegar with lime juice for a citrussy dressing. Add a can of black beans rinsed and drained, grilled or roasted corn, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped fresh avacado, and a good sprinkling of parsley or cilantro at the end. I promise you will not be disappointed with this recipe and I think you will find its one you will discover new variations on each time you make it!
And remember to always make life delicious…