This recipe is the result of a spontaneous idea. Last week we had potluck at work. Actually, to be more precise, we had a potluck week! Have I mentioned that I am really enjoying my new job? ;) Ok, so one of those days was dedicated to soups and salads.
As last weekend I had brought home from my parents’ garden a big pumpkin, I got the ‘fabulous’ idea to make a pasta salad with baked pumpkin. After baking the chopped pieces, the result was way far from what I had originally planned. Not one single trace of a crispy baked pumpkin. It looked ready to be turned into a soup. That’s how soft it was.
Fortunately, I had still an eggplant and bell peppers in the fridge. So I grilled those. After marinating them together with the feta cheese, I was more than satisfied with the result! The roasted pumpkin seeds added the extra crunchiness to the salad, and they kind of replaced the missing pumpkin..
This weekend I had to make this salad again. And this time I added zucchini as well. The intense flavor of grilled bell peppers combined with eggplants and zucchini is a perfect match. Mediterranean flavors at its best! If you are in a rush, you can always buy the grilled vegetables in a jar. I recommend investing a little more time though and prepare them yourself, if possible. You can find more instructions as to how to roast and marinate bell peppers here in one of my previous posts.
- 200 g / 7 oz of orzo (or similar shaped pasta)
- 2 bell peppers (grilled)
- 1 medium sized eggplant (grilled)
- 1 medium sized zucchini (grilled)
- 2 tbsp of chopped feta cheese
- 1 tbsp of pine nuts or pumpkin seeds (roasted)
- (extra virgin) olive oil
- chopped parsley and basil
- salt and pepper
- 2 garlic cloves (halved)
- Turn on the grill (alternatively a large pan or the oven) at medium to high heat.
- Clean the vegetables. Remove the edges of the zucchini and eggplant. Cut into slices (about ½ cm / ¼ inch thick). Don't remove the stem of the bell pepper.
- Place the bell peppers with the zucchini and eggplant slices on the grill. Sprinkle a little salt on top. Turn them upside down as soon as the bottom side turns golden brown. Keep turning the bell peppers, until all sides look burned.
- Let the bell peppers cool off well. Then remove the stem and peel off the skin.
- Cut all the vegetables into small pieces. Place all into a bowl. Add the chopped feta cheese. Marinate with olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper and garlic. Set aside for about 30min.
- In the meantime bring the water in a pot to a boil. Turn the stove down to medium heat. Add salt as needed, then the orzo. Cook al dente. Strain immediately. In order to interrupt the cooking, pour cold water into the pot. Strain again. Repeat until the pasta gets cold.
- In a small pan, roast the pine nuts or pumpkin seeds until they get golden brown. No oil needed.
- Pour the pasta into a large bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil. Stir well.
- Stir in the marinated vegetable-feta mix (remove the garlic) and pine nuts (or pumpkin seeds).
- Season - if needed - with additional herbs, salt, pepper or olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
- You can store this salad in the fridge for about 2-3 days.