How do you make a Vegetarian Pasta Salad so fabulous that even this self confessed carnivore can’t get enough of it? MARINATE the vegetables! This big, fat pasta salad recipe is a standout – it’s juicy, it’s flavour loaded and it looks as amazing as it tastes! Excellent summer food that lasts for days.
Vegetarian Pasta Salad
Who would’ve thought those random veggies you’ve got left in the bottom of your fridge could be transformed into something as incredible as this Vegetarian Pasta Salad??
Forget limp, bland veggies sitting sadly amongst tasteless, soggy pasta. THIS cold pasta salad is the polar opposite of that. It’s vibrant, it’s flavour loaded, it’s JUICY, and will make even green-haters scoff down a weeks’ worth of veggies in one sitting!
Marinating the vegetables for just 30 minutes makes all the difference in this pasta salad!
How to make this summer Vegetable Pasta Salad
Cook veggies (BBQ or oven) -> marinade in dressing -> toss through pasta.
Yep. That’s it.
(OK I might’ve skipped a few steps like chop / oil / salt ‘n pepper the veggies, but you get the gist!)
Pro tip – how to keep your pasta salad JUICY (without using tons of oil)
Pasta salads keep well for days upon days, but the pasta tends to suck up all the dressing and vegetable juices. So to keep this nice and juicy if serving this 2, 3 or even 4 days later, the trick is to shake up the dressing with some pasta cooking water to make more dressing without using copious amounts of oil.
This is what happens: pasta cooking water is starchy from the pasta. The starch emulsifies with the oil in the dressing and thickens the pasta cooking water so it’s the consistency of dressing. You have more dressing (with the same amount of flavour in it) so you can reserve some to make the pasta salad nice and juicy when you serve it up the next day….and the next!
Vegetables for pasta salad
The beauty of this Vegetarian Pasta Salad recipe is this – there are no rules. You can literally put any roastable/grillable veggie in this – and it’s going to be amazing.
Oh wait. That was a grand statement that sounded really good but I realised was a bit untrue. I think potato might be a bit odd. While the notion of carb-on-carb is not something that has passed me by over the years (potato pizza, anyone??), I don’t think it will quite work here.
But that’s the only exception! 😂
Here’s what I use.
Now, I confess these were not just dregs of my fridge – I specifically wanted to use the same veggies I used in the Marinated BBQ Vegetables so I could use the same clips in the video to show that you can either roast OR BBQ the vegetables. 😇
But here’s a photo from another time I made this Vegetarian Pasta Salad using other vegetables (I spy cauliflower and broccoli) and also a mix of leftover pasta I had.
Marinade-Dressing for vegetables (double duty!)
And here’s the marinade / dressing I use for this pasta salad recipe. You get great bang for your buck with this marinade:
When you toss hot vegetables in a dressing, they suck up the flavour which makes the veggies even tastier;
As the veggies marinate, they sweat and creates tasty juices which makes this pasta salad extra juicy and tasty; and
Hold back some of the dressing to add a fresh hit of flavour at the end.
I make this a LOT!
I make this Vegetarian Pasta Salad a LOT. This, along with Baked Frittata, is one of my favourite ways to use up leftover vegetables at the end of the week because they can be made with any roast-able vegetables, and it lasts for days and days so you can make it now when your veggies are at the end of their life, but eat it later.
How to serve it
Serve this Vegetarian Pasta Salad as:
a side dish to anything (well, perhaps anything non-Asian!)
a meal in itself
GREAT for potlucks and gatherings – transportable, colourful, and of course super delish
serve it at room temp OR slightly warm
And while it is meat free, you could certainly add a hit of protein by adding some shredded chicken! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Marinated Vegetarian Pasta Salad
- 400g / 14oz curly pasta , dried (or other of choice)
- 1/4 cup parsley , roughly chopped (or chives)
- 120g / 4oz feta , crumbled into big chunks
Vegetables (Note 1):
- 2 capsicum/bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow), cut into 2.5cm / 1" pieces
- 1 red onion , cut into wedges
- 1 eggplant , halved lengthwise, then 1.25cm/ 0.5″ thick semi circles
- 2 zucchini , cut into 1.5cm / 2/3" chunks (see video)
- 200g/ 7oz button mushrooms , halved (large ones quartered)
- 1 bunch asparagus , ends trimmed, cut into 5cm/2" lengths
- 1/4 cup (65ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
Marinade / Dressing:
- 1/3 cup (85ml) lemon juice
- 1/3 cup (85ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp each dried basil, parsley, oregano, thyme (Note 2)
- 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli flakes (adjust spice to taste, Note 3)
- Place ingredients in a jar and shake well. Set aside 10 minutes+.
- Preheat oven to 250°C/480°F (230°F fan) – super high heat replicates BBQ charred edges.
- Toss veggies in oil – Place all vegetables other than asparagus in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic, toss.
- Spread vegetables on 2 trays (fill one less than the other). Roast 25 minutes, tossing once.
- Add asparagus – Drizzle asparagus with oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Add into oven for last 5 minutes.
- BBQ Option: See Marinated BBQ Vegetables for directions.
- Marinate veggies – Transfer vegetables into large bowl, pour over 1/2 the Dressing. Toss, then leave to marinate for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
- Cook pasta + 2 minutes: In large pot of salted water, cook pasta per packet directions but ADD 2 minutes to the cook time (Note 5 for why). Drain and return pasta into pot.
- Add vegetables, including veg juices, into the pasta pot. Add remaining Dressing and parsley, then toss. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly.
- Serve! Sprinkle with feta and serve! Keeps 4 – 5 days, serve at room temp.
Make ahead PRO TIP (Note 4):
- SCOOP OUT a mug of pasta cooking water just before draining. Add 3 tbsp water to reserved Dressing (after marinating veg), shake well. Use this Dressing per above, but reserve 3 tbsp to freshen up pasta salad on Day 2 onwards.
- Freshen up pasta salad: Bring to room temp or briefly microwave (cold pasta = dry) to warm gently. Toss with Reserved Dressing then serve.
- 25 min roasting – listed veggies, cauliflower, carrots, corn on cob (cut kernels off), parsnip, root veg, pumpkin
- 15 – 20 min – broccoli, broccolini, fennel, beetroot (cubes), leeks
- 5 minutes – asparagus, green beans, peas.
- No cook – olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and other pickled/antipasto veg, tomato, cucumbers, leafy greens.
Originally published July 2019. Writing tidied up January 2022, no change to recipe, I wouldn’t dare!
Life of Dozer
Potato Wedges. He doesn’t have quite the same response with vegetables. 🤷🏻♀️