Vamped-up Pasta Salad

I wasn’t a big pasta fan, until this tasty number made its way onto my plate!

I’ve played around a lot with the ratios and ingredients in this dish so that it feels like a bit of a treat and stays heavy in healthy vegetables toppings.

You can also swap things around to suit your taste and mood – using gluten-free pasta for instance or changing veggies around.

The quality of the pesto makes a difference, so see if you can find fresh pesto in the refrigerated aisle of your supermarket.

It’s such a versatile meal option, and you can of course mix and match vegetables and the different ratios of ingredients to suit your own taste!

Recipe

Type: Vegetarian (can be made vegan by removing the mozzarella or substituting it with vegan cheese, and by using eggless pasta)

Serves: 3 very hungry dinners or 4 moderately hungry people

Approx. Preparation time: 12 mins

Approx cooking time: 20 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • One courgette
  • One aubergine
  • 100g asparagus
  • 190 g tender-stem broccoli
  • A fistful of fine trimmed green beans
  • 145g ready made fresh pesto (the fresh pesto can make the whole difference – most supermarkets have in in their refrigerated section)
  • 250g reduced-fat buffalo mozzarella
  • 3 cups / 680g pasta (fusilli work well with this recipe but any pasta will do)
  • 150g pitted black olives (drained from the juice of you are using a can)
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • Salt to taste

PREPARATION STEPS

  1. Warm-up the oven at 250 degrees Celsius
  2. Slice the aubergine into thin half moon slices (the slices should be around half a centimetre thick)
  3. Slice the courgette into thin circle slices (also about half a centimetre thick)
  4. Trim the ends of the asparagus, green beans and the broccoli to remove any damaged parts. You don’t need to further cut these.
  5. Chop the mozzarella in little cubes
  6. Weight the pasta and keep the right amount in a bowl on the side

Cooking steps

  1. Grease two separate baking trays with olive oil
  2. Lay down the aubergine slices on one tray. Drizzle some olive oil and add salt onto the aubergine slices (salt helps draw out the moisture from the veggies and helps them cook)
  3. Put the tray of aubergine slices into the oven (which should now be at 250 degree) – the aubergines go in first because they take longer to cook. Leave the aubergines in the oven for about 10 mins, or until there are cooked and soft – you may want to put a timer on for this!
  4. In the second tray, lay down the courgette slices. Drizzle olive oil and salt onto the courgettes slices. Leave aside for now.
  5. Heat up a non-stick wok or large pan on high heat.
  6. When the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add the broccoli and green beans.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and stir. Keep stirring for about 3 minutes to prevent burning. After 3 minutes, remove from the heat and add the broccoli and beans to the courgette tray.
  8. Pop the whole tray in the oven with the aubergine tray. Cook for 5 minutes or until they are cooked and soft. Check on the aubergines at the same time to make sure they aren’t burning.
  9. Pop the asparagus into the hot wok you used for the broccoli and beans. Add some salt and stir well. Cook for 3-5 minutes on high heat, stirring regularly. Then, remove the wok from the heat.
  10. On the side, fill a large pot with water. Add a generous pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil. Bring to the boil. When the water is boiled, add the pasta and cook for 9-11 minutes or as advised on the packet you are using. If in doubt, taste the pasta at regular intervals to check for the right consistency.
  11. Keep checking on the aubergines and take out of the oven when they are cooked if you haven’t already!
  12. Put the asparagus, aubergine slices, courgette slices, brocoli and beans into a large serving bowl (it should be large enough to mix all the ingredients together before serving)
  13. When the pasta is cooked, sieve it and add it to the serving bowl
  14. Finally, add the remaining ingredients to the serving bowl: the olives, the mozzarella and the pesto. Mix well until everything is homogeneously combined and covered in pesto.
  15. Serve hot!

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