Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Perfect for picnics, barbecues, and alfresco dinners. Feel free to use whatever vegetables are at your local farmer's market. Asparagus, summer squash, and eggplant would all work well too. The basil vinaigrette is delicious on it's own over ripe tomatoes or grilled fish. 

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad with Basil Vinaigrette 

Serves 4

2 medium zucchini, quartered
1 red bell pepper, quartered, seeds removed
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered, seeds removed
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch rings (do not separate)
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. capers, drained or 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
12 ounces whole wheat, quinoa, lentil, or brown rice pasta (I used brown rice fusilli)
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional, I didn't add, but would be really nice)

Basil Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush vegetables on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Grill for 8-12 minutes until just tender and charred, flipping halfway through. The onions will take the longest. Cut into bite-sized pieces and place in mixing bowl. 

While vegetables are cooking, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente (according to package directions). Drain well, but do not rinse.

Add pasta and capers to bowl with grilled vegetables and toss to combine. When ready to serve, top with Basil Vinaigrette.

Serving notes: I like to combine the pasta with the Basil Vinaigrette at the last minute as it keeps the dish looking brighter. You can make both components up to a day in advance and toss together when ready to serve. Bring dish to room temperature (or only slightly chilled) before serving. It's also great warm when the vegetables are fresh off the grill. 

If you don't have a grill: Preheat broiler to high and arrange vegetables in a single layer on a sheet pan. Broil on the top rack for 8-12 minutes until just tender and charred (flipping halfway through). Be sure to watch the vegetables as they can char fast!

Basil Vinaigrette

1 1/2 cups basil leaves, packed tightly
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice or red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove or 1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. sea salt
4-5 grinds black pepper

Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend/process until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

This is a pretty universal summer vinaigrette. It would be great over a tomato salad or grilled fish too.