Sure you could make a grilled pasta salad with the usual suspects: zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers. But why not change it up with crunchy bitter broccoli rabe and a bright and sweet tomato vinaigrette? Fresh mozzarella and the sweetness of grilled red onions helps to balance the tangy dressing. Pasta salads can often be overdressed, so we recommend tossing half the vinaigrette with the pasta mixture and adding a little bit more at a time, tasting as you go, until it’s dressed just to your liking. Wagon wheels are fun but you can use any short pasta shape you like.
8 ounces rotelle (wagon wheel) or other short pasta
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more for pasta water
12 ounces tomatoes (about 3 medium), halved
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, plus more leaves for serving
½ cup olive oil, divided
¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 large red onion, sliced ½-inch thick
4 ounces broccoli rabe
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn (about 1 cup)
How to Make It
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes; drain.
Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium-high. Toss tomatoes, oregano, 1 tablespoon of the oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper in a large bowl. (Do not clean bowl.) Place tomatoes in a single layer on hot grill pan, and grill, flipping once, until well marked and soft, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Combine grilled tomatoes, vinegar, ¼ cup of the oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper in a blender and process until smooth.
Place onion and broccoli rabe in bowl. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and toss to coat. Place onion slices in a single layer on hot grill pan, and grill until well marked and tender, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from pan. Place broccoli rabe in hot grill pan, and grill until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Coarsely chop vegetables and return to bowl. Add pasta, tomato vinaigrette, and mozzarella and toss to combine.
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