Week 20: Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad
If you noticed that a couple weeks have passed since my last post, I appreciate your loyal readership! After a brief hiatus, Try Something Yum is back!
When I started this blog, I was working part time, and have since transitioned to working over full time, so things have been unexpectedly busier. It’s harder to make the time to cook when work and life are busy, so I’ve been sticking with fast and easy, tried and true, and when in doubt, take-out. However, the main hospital cafeteria is now closed for renovations, so I’ve got to step up my lunch game or be forced to eat from the disappointing ready-made café choices.
I’ve been trying to think of tasty lunch ideas I can make a big batch of on the weekend to get Luke and I through a couple weekday lunches without spending hours in the kitchen or compromising on taste (soggy leftovers are not really my thing). I find pasta salad to be a great one dish option as you can add veggies and protein to make it a complete meal. This recipe’s got roasted red peppers, fresh basil, tasty bocconcini cheese, and crunchy toasted almonds, all in a nice light vinaigrette type dressing made with lemon, roasted garlic, and olive oil. Check it out if on the Food Network’s website: Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad Recipe
Ingredients: Nothing unusual but you’ll need to pick up bocconcini, fresh basil, and maybe bell peppers and a lemon.
Timing: It’s hard to say as I made this while making other things but you could probably have it done in under or up to one hour depending on how much of a kitchen ninja you are!
Yield: One BIG bowl – enough for maybe four lunches(?) or more if you’re serving it as a side dish.
Serving: We enjoyed this as a lunch meal on its own, although it would also make a great side dish or even as a contribution at a potluck!
How did it go? Fairly well. Cooking the pasta is straightforward. For the peppers, they roast in the oven, then go in a covered bowl so the steam loosens the skins and then the skins easily peel off after that so long as they roasted long enough (there should be some black on the skins). If you can’t peel off all the skin (sometimes this happens around the outer edges), don’t fret, it won’t spoil the dish.
Timing was a little tricky as I couldn’t get the peppers done in the time the pasta cooked, so the pasta was waiting in the strainer for a while. I shook it around a couple times to make sure it didn’t stick together. Some of the noodles got squished and a couple of them cracked as they flattened. While it doesn’t affect the taste, if I was serving this for a crowd I would either alter the timing (start the peppers before starting the pasta) or use a smaller tube noodle like penne that wouldn’t get squished as easily.
The other thing I noticed was that although I roasted the garlic in their skins (as instructed), without any oil drizzled on, they dried out a bit while roasting. Thankfully they were rehydrated when the olive oil was added to the bowl, but I wonder if tossing them in some grapeseed oil before they went in the oven would have helped.
Taste: super fresh! The lemon adds a nice brightness and the dressing is more like a vinaigrette so it’s lighter and fresher than pasta salad’s [dreaded] creamier counterparts. I personally love garlic flavour and since the garlic’s been roasted, it’s mild enough to appeal to the masses. The other interesting thing about this salad is the fun variety of textures and flavours – the bocconcini has a hearty texture, the peppers are soft, sweet, and juicy, and the toasted almonds add a nice bit of crunch. Toasting the almonds really enhances their flavour, and the basil adds a lovely fresh herb touch to the dish. Although this dish may not be revolutionary, it hits all the right notes for me!
- Chop the bocconcini balls into quarters (or smaller pieces depending on what size of bocconcini you get) so you get cheese in more bites. 😊
- Fresh basil is delicate – if you tear the leaves rather than chop them, you’ll avoid bruising (and making black marks) on them.
- To avoid squished rigatoni noodles, either start your pasta once the peppers are in the oven, or use a smaller noodle like penne that is less likely to get flattened while waiting in the strainer.
- If the pasta is waiting in the strainer, shake it around every now and again to keep the noodles from sticking together.
Luke’s review: this pasta salad recipe is fresh and colourful. It compliments anything nicely. Great pre-workout/activity meal.
Luke’s recipe rating: thumbs up