Friday, August 19, 2016

Healthy Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies

Healthy, quick and delicious pasta salad with colorful grilled peppers, savory grilled zucchini and fresh  mozzarella.
I say, it's time for a savory and healthy recharge today! 
I realized I've been posting lots of sweet recipes recently, and not enough wholesome dinner ideas. 
And I do claim mine is a blog about Italian food. So for a minute, let's not think about chocolate covered  almond cookies or moist and buttery cakes exploding with fresh berries. And let's dive, headfirst, in this healthy and scrumptious vegetarian pasta. 
It's super easy and quick (ready in no more than 30 minutes) and it can be prepared ahead of time.
I'm sure you are going to love it as much as I do!


I prepare this pasta salad on the regular. It makes an easy, everyday dinner or a super fun dish for my weekend picnics at the beach. And if I have leftovers, even better! I pack it in my children's lunch boxes the next day.


This pasta salad is ready in a breeze. All you need to do is cook the pasta, grill the peppers and the zucchini, and toss all the ingredients together. 
I simply love these small red, orange and yellow peppers. So colorful and so sweet. I grill them skin down for a few minutes until lightly burned. I wrap them in aluminum foil for about ten minutes, while I grill the zucchini. This makes them softer and the skin easier to remove. You can leave the skin on if you prefer, especially for small peppers. I actually love the smokey flavor of the lightly charred outer part. It's a nice contrast to the natural sweetness of the peppers.
You can use whatever pasta shape you like the most. And I mean short pasta (no spaghetti or linguine or such). Penne or farfalle are my favorite for this recipe.
And remember to use flavorful, good quality extra virgin olive oil. 
Buon appetito!


Ingredients: serving 4
  • 8 oz (225 gr) of colorful mini peppers, red, orange and yellow
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz (340 gr) of  pasta (I used Barilla penne pasta)
  • 1 fresh mozzarella ball (4 oz, 115 gr)
  • 5-6 leaves of fresh basil
  • salt
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta when the water boils following the directions on the box.

2. While the water boils, prepare the veggies. Wash the peppers, cut in half and remove the seeds if any.
 Place the peppers, skin side down, on a hot grilling pan (or grill), and cook until the skin blisters and burns a little. It should take about 3-4 minutes, but time can vary based on your grill. Salt to taste.

Wrap the peppers in aluminum foil, and keep them close for 10 minutes or so. This will help remove the skin more easily, and soften the peppers.

3. Slice the zucchini lengthwise, in thin slices, about 1/8 inch (3mm). Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side. Salt to taste.



5. Peel the peppers, if you'd like, and cut in pieces. Cut in slices the zucchini.
In a large bowl combine the peppers, zucchini and olive oil.


7. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and run under cold water, to prevent from overcooking (unless you plan to eat the pasta right away!). Toss the pasta with the veggies.  Add the mozzarella cut in small cubes and chopped fresh basil. Mix and drizzle with some more olive oil if necessary.


You can serve immediately or later at room temperature. 
Buon appetito!






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