Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad With Pesto Dressing

We just had our family over for a barbecue, and while I was creating my menu, my husband strongly suggested that I include some type of pasta dish into our meal. My husband is Italian and just like his Father, has gotten to the point in his life where no meal is complete without some type of pasta.

My Father-In-Law passed away a year ago this week, and when we had him over for a meal, whether it was Thanksgiving, Easter, or just a weekend get-together I learned that unless I included some type of pasta dish in my menu he would enjoy his meal he wouldn’t be happy. He would compliment my meal, but suggest that had I added pasta to my menu it would have been perfect. It seems now that my Father-In-Law is no longer with us, my husband has taken over as the family’s most fervent pasta promoter.

I initially told my husband that since we had over twenty family members coming for dinner, and it was a barbecue, that I was not making pasta. Well, he complained daily so as the date of our family get-together approached I finally gave in and told him I would make a pasta salad. Although he would have enjoyed some type of hot pasta dish more, he knew enough to accept the fact that he was getting some type of pasta and stopped complaining.

I hadn’t made a pasta salad for years but knew that Wanted one chock full of vegetables. Since the theme of our meal was a barbecue one, I decided to grill my veggies for the salad first. I tossed my pasta with the vegetables along with halved sweet cherry tomatoes, then dressed it in one of my favorite vinaigrettes made with basil pesto.

Before serving, I topped the salad with some goat cheese crumbles and added some peppery baby arugula. My salad was a hit, and although we ate leftovers for two days, it was delicious, and my husband was happy. When making any type of pasta salad I cook my pasta until it is quite “al dente”, and then once drained I run cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking process to keep the pasta perfectly cooked.

You could use different vegetables but I used eggplant, summer squash, red peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes because that is what I had growing in my garden. You could also add lightly toasted pine nuts to the salad, finely diced sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella balls, or some chopped capers.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad With Pesto Dressing

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad With Pesto Dressing

Yield: Serves 6-8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

A summer inspired pasta salad chock full of grilled veggies and dressed with a pesto flavored vinaigrette.


  • 2 Medium Zucchini
  • 1 Medium Eggplant
  • 2 Summer Squash
  • 2 Small Red Bell Peppers
  • 3/4 Cup Olive Oil, Divided
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Pound Penne or Rigatoni
  • 2 Cups Halved Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Kalamata Olives
  • 3 Tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Prepared Basil Pesto
  • 2 Cups Baby Arugula
  • 1/2 Cup Goat Cheese Crumbles


    1. Prepare the grill to medium high heat.
      Slice the zucchini, eggplant, and summer squash into 3/4-inch slices.
    2. Grill, turning as needed until golden and cooked through, brushing with olive oil to prevent sticking.
    3. Set aside too cool to room temperature.
    4. Place the peppers on the grill and blacken the skins turning often.
    5. Place the peppers in a ziplock bag and let rest 20 minutes.
      Cook the pasta until it is "al dente", then drain and rinse in a colander under cold water.
    6. Remove the skin, seeds and membranes from the peppers and chop into 1-inch pieces.
    7. Coarsely chop the grilled vegetables, then place the pasta, veggies, and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl.
    8. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, pesto, salt and pepper.
    9. Pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables along with the olives and chop.
    10. Just before serving stir in the arugula and top with goat cheese crumbles.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 177mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 6gSugar: 9gProtein: 10g

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