Grilled vegetable pasta salad

Visiting my brother and sister-in-law (and their kiddos) in Southern Ohio for 4th of July weekend, we were graciously invited to a cookout at their friend’s place. Not wanting to arrive empty-handed, we ran to a tiny local farmer’s market and came up with this grilled vegetable pasta salad.

Sidenote: My niblings love pasta salad. Who doesn’t? But too often, in my opinion, it’s too-much-pasta-not-enough-good-stuff. When I make pasta salad, I tend to over-index on the veggies in hopes of coming up with something a bit healthier, especially when the little ones involved. Because if you can get them to eat something they love that’s not so nutritionally bankrupt, that’s a win. Right? 

This recipe (like many of mine) is a loose one; please add your own spin and cater to the seasons. As written, this makes plenty for a potluck.


  • For the salad:
    • 1 lb pasta (short and fun is best: cavatappi, bowtie, something like this)
    • 2 zucchini
    • 2 yellow squashes
    • 2 green peppers
    • 2 onions
    • 1/2-1 c Parmigiano Reggiano (and yes, this makes a difference. Buy it at Costco for good quality at a low price)
    • 1/2 c (ish) freshly chopped basil
  • For the dressing:
  • Along the way:
    • Garlic paste (garlic mashed with salt) – about 6 cloves worth
    • Olive oil
    • Dried oregano to taste
    • Salt & pepper


Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and cool.

Cut zucchini and squash into long quarters (or sixths if large). Salt and drain them for about 20 minutes if you have the time. Cut the peppers into halves and the onions into quarters.

Fire up a grill.

Salt and pepper all the veg, then baste with some olive oil mixed with about half the garlic paste and some dried oregano. Grill everything until it’s done, keeping close eye that the onions and peppers don’t burn, and that the squashes don’t get soggy-soft. Pull everything from the grill, let it cool a bit, then chop into bite-size pieces.

While the veggies are cooling, make your dressing. Mix the Garlic Expressions with cider vinegar and the rest of your garlic paste. Taste and make sure you’re happy with it – it should have a bit of a vinegary bite but be sweet to your liking.

Mix veggies, pasta, and dressing. Add Parmigiano Reggiano and basil. Let it sit for a few minutes, then taste and adjust, adding more olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, or Garlic Expressions as desired.


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