Tasty summer fare the whole family will love!
I adore pasta, but the mere thought of eating it with piping hot sauce during the middle of summer is enough to make me feel faint. This vegetarian dish was devised to combat the heat while providing a nutritious, hearty meal after a day spent enjoy all the fun summer has to offer. You can vary the vegetables according to your preference; grilling imparts maximum flavour but they can easily be sautéed in a pan or roasted in the oven if you prefer. The vegetables can also be cooked ahead of time and kept, covered, at room temperature for up to 6 hours. Bocconcini are delightful little balls of fresh mozzarella, about the size of a small egg. If you can’t find them at your local shops, use a large ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces. We really enjoy this dish at lukewarm temperature on a warm day but it’s equally delicious when piping hot.
- 2 – 3 tablespoons (30 – 45 mL) flavoured olive oil (I used roasted garlic)
- 1 medium red onion, cut into eighths leaving a bit of root section intact on each segment
- 2 cups (500 mL) quartered plum tomatoes or halved large grape tomatoes
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4 inch (.5 cm) pieces
- 2 cups (500 mL) button mushrooms, halved (or quartered if larger)
- 1 tub (200g) bocconcini, drained and quartered
- 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) small pasta shells (use gluten-free pasta if you prefer)
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) basil pesto
- Salt, pepper and fresh basil, to garnish
- Preheat grill to medium (350F).
- Place sections of red onion in a medium-sized bowl and drizzle with a few teaspoons of the olive oil (just enough to coat). Toss and place in a grill basket set on the hot grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until softened and lightly charred, about 8 – 10 minutes.
- When onions are cooked, transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
- Put tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms in a large serving bowl and drizzle with a few more teaspoons of the olive oil, tossing so everything is evenly coated. Place the vegetables in the grill basket set on the hot grill and cook, turning occasionally, until softened and lightly charred, about 8 – 10 minutes. When vegetables are cooked, remove to the medium bowl you previously had the onions in.
- While vegetables are grilling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. As soon as water comes to a boil, add pasta to pot and cook according to package directions.
- Before draining, remove 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the hot cooking water and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, put the cut bocconcini in the bottom of the large serving bowl you used to hold the vegetables before grilling.
- Add hot, cooked pasta to the serving bowl along with pesto and the 1/2 cup of cooking water; stir quickly to combine and soften bocconcini.
- Add cooked vegetables (including cooked, chopped onions), garnish with salt and pepper plus fresh basil and serve warm or lukewarm.