Eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes...the whole garden is here! Summer’s fresh vegetables come together with whole wheat orzo in this hearty pasta salad. Starchy pasta water does double-duty to make a quick, light dressing. This makes a great dish for a picnic or summer party. —Plants-Rule
bell pepper, any color
fresh thyme, chopped
fresh oregano, chopped
ground black pepper
whole wheat orzo pasta (about 1 1/4 cups)
Preheat your oven to 450 F. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick silicon baking mat.
To Roast the Oil-Free Ratatouille Vegetables: While the oven and water heat up, prep your vegetables. Dice the bell pepper, eggplant, and zucchini into large, bite-sized pieces. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle them with the thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10-12 minutes, until browned around the edges.
To Boil the Whole Wheat Orzo Pasta: When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir. Cook according to package directions, about 8-10 minutes. Be sure not to overcook or you'll have mushy pasta. It should still have a "bite".
To make the Whole Wheat Orzo Ratatouille Vegetable Pasta Salad: Dice the tomatoes. Retain as much of the juices as you can. Place them in a large bowl.
Remove the stems of the parsley and chop well. Add it to the bowl with the tomatoes.
When the pasta is ready, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and immediately rinse under cold water until completely chilled, about 30 seconds. Drain well.
Add to the bowl with the tomatoes and parsley. When the vegetables are done roasting, remove them from the oven. While they are still warm, add the roasted vegetables to the large bowl with the tomatoes and parsley. Stir well to combine.
Add a couple tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, to make a creamier salad. Depending on your taste, you might add just 2 tablespoons or up to 1/2 cup. The juiciness of the tomatoes will also affect how wet your pasta salad becomes.
Taste to adjust seasoning and serve. Best enjoyed at room temperature.