Make this healthy roasted vegetable pasta salad for dinner tonight, or your next outdoor cookout! Made with simple, nutritious ingredients, it’s easy to make and will satisfy everyone.
Looking for an easy and healthy recipe to bring to all your summer cookouts? This healthy roasted vegetable pasta salad is perfect for just that! It’s filled with tons of vegetables, fresh basil, olives, and feta cheese and tossed in a simple lemon dressing.
As a dietitian, you can count on me to make healthy recipes fun and delicious to eat. While this pasta salad recipe is nutritious, it’s also filled with fresh flavor and will appeal to everyone! It takes just about 30 minutes to make, and tastes good warm or cold. It’s also easy to prepare in advance, so you can spend more time hanging out with your friends at a summer party or barbecue.
Ingredients in healthy roasted vegetable pasta salad
Here is everything you need to make this healthy pasta salad recipe:
I use whole wheat pasta for this recipe because it has more fiber and plant-based protein than regular white pasta, and you can hardly tell the difference. You can also use a regular white pasta, or bean-based pasta to make it gluten free, interchangeably.
I used eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes for the vegetables because they are coming into season for summer. Feel free to omit or swap for other vegetables, based on what’s available and personal preference. You can try it with asparagus and peas for a spring vibe, or try Brussels sprouts and butternut squash for a fall pasta salad!
This recipe is vegetarian, nut free, and soy free. To make it gluten free, use a gluten free pasta. If you want to make this recipe vegan, omit the feta cheese or use vegan cheese.
Healthy roasted vegetable pasta salad nutrition benefits
This pasta salad is about half vegetables, half pasta. So you’re getting just as much vegetable in each bite as you are pasta!
Eggplant has 2.5 grams of fiber in a one cup serving. The purple skin of eggplant contains antioxidants, which help fight inflammation and keep our cells healthy.
Cherry tomatoes are an excellent source of many micronutrients, including Vitamins A, C, E and potassium. One cup of cherry tomatoes provides 2 grams of fiber. Cherry tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant compound.
Tomato tip: Cooking tomatoes (like in this recipe) increases the amount of lycopene our bodies can absorb and use!
Kalamata olives are an excellent source of healthy fat. About 75 percent of the fat in Kalamata olives is monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Kalamata olives are also a good source of minerals like iron, calcium, and copper, and vitamins A and E. These vitamins are fat-soluble vitamins, so they need to be consumed with fat (like the fat in Kalamata olives) for optimal absorption.
Whole wheat pasta is a nutritious alternative to regular white pasta, because it has more fiber and plant-based protein. Fiber is a nutrient with several health benefits – it keeps us regular, promotes weight management, and enhances gut health.
How to make healthy roasted vegetable pasta salad
This pasta salad recipe is easy to make and takes 30 minutes. First, chop up the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and garlic. Toss all the vegetables in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast them in the oven. I used a silicone baking mat to prevent them from sticking to the pan.
While the vegetables are roasting cook the pasta on the stovetop in well salted water. Also, prepare the simple lemon dressing. Chop the basil and Kalamata olives.
Put the cooked vegetables, pasta, olives, basil, and feta cheese in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over everything and toss well to combine. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
Food safety tips: Summer cookouts and outdoor gatherings can lead to food spoiling faster than usual due to high temperatures. When serving a cold dish like pasta salad, it’s important to keep it cold (below 40 degrees F) in a refrigerator or cooler until ready to eat. Avoid cross contamination by keeping raw meat away from other cookout dishes, and use separate, clean utensils for each dish. Never leave food out for more than two hours, or more than one hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or more.
This recipe tastes good warm or cold, and keeps well in the fridge for up to three days. Store roasted vegetable pasta salad in an airtight container in your fridge.
Best pasta to use for pasta salad
Always use dried pasta, not fresh pasta, for pasta salad. Dried pasta holds its shape much better and can be served cold.
Short pasta shapes with grooves, ridges, and swirls are ideal for pasta salad. They are easy to eat with a fork and their small size pairs well with the other ingredients you might put in pasta salad like vegetables and cheese. In addition to rotini, other good shapes for pasta salad are farfalle, penne, fusilli, and cavatappi.
Avoid long pasta shapes like spaghetti and linguine for pasta salad. These shapes are not as easy to eat and are best for smooth oil and tomato-based sauces, not a pasta salad recipe with lots of chunky ingredients.