Quantcast

Healthy Side Dish: Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad


Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad

Just in case you are still trying to figure out what to make for your Labor Day picnic or potluck, I’m sharing a very easy, healthy recipe that everyone will love.

I’ve been trying to eat healthier and this recipe is great because the only fat in it is extra virgin olive oil, which is one of those good fats. There are no processed foods either.

Best yet, it will work alongside your chicken or burgers or steak as a your starch-vegetable-salad all in one bowl. Since it is served room temperature, it’s easy to take with you anywhere and it will taste just as good after a couple of hours on the buffet as it did when you set it out.

It’s also a great base recipe to use with your favorite vegetables. Just leave out anything you don’t like and substitute similar items. Any raw veggies will work fine in this recipe. If you have a vegetable that would be better cooked, simply follow the instructions for cooking the eggplant.

I’ve added a new feature to my recipes so you can easily print or save them on your computer or to a recipe collection service like KitchenBug. You’ll also find detailed nutritional information (click the dig in button next to the print button). You’ll find the recipe card at the end of this article after all of the pictures.

If you like this pasta salad recipe, please consider sharing it on Pinterest or your favorite social site. Don’t forget to leave a comment to tell me if you made any changes to the recipe and what you thought of it!

Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb farfalle or fusilli pasta (bow tie or spirals)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced and quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and then chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, small balls or cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

     

 Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad ingredients

A couple of thoughts on the ingredients…

The EVOO and freshly ground pepper really add a lot to this recipe. I strongly suggest you don’t substitute other oils or use pre-ground pepper.

I also recommend sticking with bow ties or spirals for your pasta. Noodles like penne do better with a thick, clingy sauce rather than the thin sauce you get with this recipe.

Whole grape or cherry tomatoes are a better option than cutting up tomatoes. The whole tomatoes will hold up much better than chopped tomatoes and you’ll appreciate having them whole when you dig into the leftovers the next day. But if larger tomatoes is all you have, I’m sure they would work fine.

If you’ve never had fresh mozzarella, this is the recipe to try it. You won’t find fresh mozzarella in the standard cheese section of most stores, but any store with a specialty cheese department will have it. I buy the small cherry size balls, but you could also get a large ball and cut it up. As a last resort, use regular mozzarella, but it won’t absorb the flavors of the balsamic vinegar or olive oil. If I couldn’t get fresh mozzarella, I would probably try goat cheese or feta cheese before going with firm mozzarella.

I like the spring greens mix for both the visual appeal and the flavors they add. But you could go with any greens mix. Spinach would be great in this too. Just stay away from iceberg lettuce please. It really doesn’t do justice to this recipe.

Directions:

Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - boil pasta

The first step is to cook your pasta. Bring salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Stir once to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot and cook as long as your package says it takes to get al dente pasta.
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - rinse pasta
Once the pasta is finished, pour it into a colander to drain the water. Then place the colander under cold water in the sink to rinse. The rinsing removes excess starch and stops the pasta from cooking, so don’t forget this step. Give it a stir while you are rinsing too so the pasta doesn’t stick together.
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - sliced eggplant
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - cubed eggplant
While the pasta is cooking, go ahead and get started on the eggplant. First cut the eggplant into thick slices, then cut each slice into cubes.
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - cooking in frying pan
Add the olive oil to a hot frying pan and saute the eggplant. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until the eggplant is soft and slightly browned. Raw eggplant is not good, so make sure you stir occasionally so all of the eggplant gets cooked.
And don’t overload the pan. This was half of my eggplant as I did it in two batches.
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - cooked eggplant
Put the cooked eggplant into a bowl to cool to room temperature. If you get impatient, you can speed this up by putting it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Just don’t leave it in too long because you don’t want to get it cold before you add it to the rest of the ingredients.
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - yellow summer squash
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - chopped red onion

While the pasta and eggplant is cooking, slice up your yellow summer squash and red onions.

To keep everything bit sized, you’ll want to quarter the larger slices of the squash. The smaller ones can be left whole or cut in half.

The onion will be the strongest flavor in this dish, so make sure you slice it thin and then chop it up small. If you don’t like onion or will be serving this to kids, you might just leave it out. I didn’t include onion the first time I made this recipe and it was good that way too.
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

I do my best to avoid extra dishes that I’ll have to wash, so I actually added my squash, onions, tomatoes and cheese on top of the pasta in the colander until I was ready to mix it all together.

As you can see, bite size is important. The cheese is also one of the favorite parts of the dish for a lot of people, so I cut each cherry sized ball in half. It is the perfect size to absorb the flavors and give you a clear flavor of the cheese, while making it go a bit farther.
Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - pasta salad and parsley

At this point, you are ready to start mixing everything together. Find a really large bowl. If you don’t have one big enough, then use the pot that you cooked the pasta in or a large soup pot.

Start with the adding to the pot the pasta, squash, onion, tomatoes and cheese. Mix with a large spoon or your hands (I found it much easier to do this with my hands!). Then add the chopped parsley and mix in.

Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - mixed together

Next add the cooked eggplant and greens.

Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - cooked eggplant

After everything is mixed together, then add the balsamic vinegar and mix one last time.

Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad - ready to serve

Either serve immediately or refrigerate to be served later in the day. While the leftovers are good, I would recommend making this past salad recipe the day you plan to serve it.

I love Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ shares!

SEE MY MOST POPULAR RECIPES:

Want nutritional information?

Click on the + sign in the recipe card below for complete nutritional information.

[kitchenbug-your-recipe-appears-here-12833]

Adapted from Rachel Ray


6 Responses

  1. Carla says:

    I was a little confused about where to pin this but I finally decided on my salad board since the pasta board is labeled main dishes (although I do tend to eat things like this as a main dish). It sounds great and I think it would be good without the cheese too.

    • Karen Goodman says:

      I can relate to your confusion! I eat this as a main dish. For those wanting protein to make it a main dish, it would be easy to add some shrimp or pepperoni or a number of other things. I think it could easily be a side dish, salad or main dish.

      And while it would be fine without cheese, I love it so much that I just can’t leave it out.

      Thanks for pinning the recipe and I hope you like it as much as I do.

  2. Kristin says:

    This looks amazing! I’ve never tried eggplant, but I’ve been so curious about it. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe – yum!

  3. Lynette aka breezermom says:

    I used a smaller pasta called “Ruffles”, basically really short rotini, and the bites of pasta were the same size as the diced eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Full of fresh, tasty ingredients! Everything combined to make a delicious lunch! I didn’t use it as a side dish….it was filling enough for a main. Thanks for sharing!

  1. February 1, 2014

    […] at The Fit Cook. Karen may call this a side dish but I’d be just as happy to eat this  balsamic egg plant pasta salad as a main dish. Plus I have a heard time knowing what to do with egg plant. Now this Future Expat […]

  2. May 7, 2015

    […] Balsamic Eggplant Pasta Salad […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *