|Whole Wheat Orecchiette Pasta Salad with Roasted Asparagus, Red Bell Pepper, and Mushrooms is a perfect salad for Meatless Monday.|
Today the temperature in Utah is supposed to get above 90F so we've definitely entered the season for warm-weather eating, and lately I've had pasta salad on my mind. It seems like there are a lot of ho-hum combinations that give pasta salad a bad name, but I like the challenge of coming up with something that's really good, and I loved the Whole Wheat Spaghetti Salad I made recently. Then I excitedly discovered Delallo Organic Whole Wheat Orcchiette at the store in my new town, and my mind started spinning with thoughts of making a really drool-worthy vegetarian pasta salad. This Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Roasted Asparagus, Red Bell Pepper, and Mushrooms has wonderful flavors from roasting the vegetables, and then I added this fun pasta shape, sliced green onion, chopped parsley, kicked-up Italian dressing and coarsely grated Parmesan to make a truly fantastic salad. If you can't find the whole wheat Orecchiette I used, just use any smallish whole wheat pasta shape, even macaroni. And if you're seeing this at a time of year when asparagus is not going to be available or you're not an asparagus fan, I'd just increase the mushrooms and red peppers and you'd still have a delicious salad. (If you skip the Parmesan and use a vegan dressing, this salad could easily be vegan.)
Pasta salad is often served as a side dish, but I'd love a salad like this for a Meatless Monday lunch or dinner when the weather is hot. (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch. For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.)
Cut the asparagus, mushrooms, and red bell pepper into pieces that are similar size and shape and toss together in a bowl the olive oil, salt, and fresh ground black pepper.
Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes at 400F/200C. (My vegetables are too crowded; next time I would use two baking sheets!)
Let the vegetables cool for about 4-5 minutes, then dump them in a colander and let the excess liquid drain off. (Don't skip this step or the salad will be watery. While they drain, mix together bottled Italian dressing, Spike Seasoning, and black pepper to make the dressing.
Here's the pasta I found that inspired the salad, but if you can use any smallish whole wheat pasta shape, (and here's how to pronounce Orecchiette).
Cook the pasta according to package directions until it's al denta, drain, and rinse with COLD water. Then let pasta drain well, stirring a few times so it doesn't stick together.
When the pasta is cooled and well-drained, mix it into the marinated vegetables and toss with the rest of the dressing.
Add freshly grated Parmesan and toss again. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.
(Makes at least 6 servings; recipe created by Kalyn.)
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
12 oz. brown Crimini mushrooms, cut into thick half in slices
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thick strips about 1 inch long
2 T olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (for seasoning roasted vegetables)
1/2 lb. whole wheat Orecchiette pasta (or use any smallish whole wheat pasta shape)
salt, for pasta cooking water
1/2 cup thickly sliced green onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup freshly ground Parmesan
6 T purchased Italian Dressing (for South Beach Diet use a dressing with less than 2 grams of sugar per serving, I used Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing)
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (or use any all-purpose seasoning blend)
1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Break a piece of asparagus to see where the woody part starts, then trim all the asparagus to that size and cut into 1 inch pieces. Cut out stem and remove seeds from red bell pepper, and cut into strips about 1 inch long. Wash mushrooms if needed and cut into thick slices (or half-slices if the mushrooms are large.) Put the prepared vegetables into a bowl and toss with 2 T olive oil; season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Spray or brush baking sheet with olive oil or nonstick spray and arrange vegetables in a single layer. (Next time I'd use 2 pans if the vegetables look crowded.) Roast vegetables 15-20 minutes, or until they're starting to shrivel but not completely soft. While vegetables are roasting, fill a medium-sized pot with water, add about 1 tsp. of salt, and bring to a boil.
Remove vegetables from the oven and cool on the baking sheet 4-5 minutes. While vegetables cool, whisk together the salad dressing, Spike Seasoning and coarse ground pepper. Chop the parsley and slice the green onions. When the roasted vegetables are partly cooled, put them in a colander placed in the sink and let them drain until any excess liquid runs off. (Don't skip this step or the salad will be watery.) After vegetables drain, put them back in the same bowl and toss with 3-4 T of the dressing mixture and let vegetables marinate.
When pasta water is boiling, add the pasta, stir, and reduce heat to a low boil. Cook until the pasta is barely al dente (check package cooking time.) Drain pasta into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with COLD water, and then let drain well, stirring a few times so it won't stick together.
When the pasta is well-drained, add it to the marinated vegetables, mix in the rest of the dressing, chopped parsley, and sliced green onions, and gently stir to combine. Add the freshly-grated Parmesan, stir again, and serve salad slightly chilled or at room temperature.
This was still quite good after it had been in the fridge overnight, although pasta salad like this is best freshly made.
South Beach Suggestions:
Using a moderate amount of whole wheat pasta and lots of low-glycemic roasted vegetables makes this salad a good choice for Phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Vegetarian Pasta Salads You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad ~ Gluten Free Goddess
Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Fried Kale, Tomatoes, Olives, Feta, and Pesto Vinaigrette ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad ~ Budget Bytes
Whole Wheat Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Feta, and Herbs ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad ~ She Wears Many Hats
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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