With perfectly ripe summer time vegetables, grilled ratatouille pasta salad is a delightful spin on the traditional French dish.
Why you’ll love it: This salad is perfect for summer!
How long it takes: 40 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large pasta pan, stove, colander, grill pan or grill basket, large mixing bowl, sharp knife, measuring utensils
Juicy red tomatoes, dark purple eggplant, bright green tender zucchini squash, sweet red onions, and crisp bell pepper are grilled to perfection, dressed with an easy vinaigrette, and combined with al dente pasta for an absolutely fabulous pasta salad.
Ratatouille is a stewed vegetable dish originating in Nice. We visited France when I was a teenager, staying at the home of the French student we hosted for several summers. With true French generosity, we were invited to the homes of several of their friends and relatives for dinner.
I remember having ratatouille at their grandmother’s home. When my dad, who isn’t a fan of bell peppers, declined a serving, grandma simply fished out all the peppers and placed a big bowlful in front of him. Naturally he ate every bit.
Anyways, peppers or not, you’ll love this salad! Grilling caramelizes the vegetables and gives them a great smoky flavor. It’s a perfect summer salad and I can’t wait for you to try it!
If you like the idea of grilled salads, be sure to try this grilled vegetable salad (with no pasta). It’s another one of my favorites.
About this pasta salad
There are three basic components to this pasta salad:
- grilled vegetables
- cooked pasta
- an easy vinaigrette
The pasta can cook while you grill the vegetables, so it comes together quite quickly. I’ll run you through the recipe and give you helpful hints and ideas.
Look for the printable recipe card with measurements and specific instructions at the end of this post. You’ll find nutrition information there too.
What you’ll need
- Pasta: For this salad, a short pasta is best – something similar in size to the vegetables so you can get both vegetables and pasta in each bite. Try ziti, mini penne, farfalle, or another favorite of yours. Whole wheat or gluten-free is fine, too.
- Eggplant, Zucchini, Red Onion, Bell Pepper, Tomatoes, Whole Garlic Cloves: You’d find these same vegetables in a traditional ratatouille.
- Dried Thyme, Salt, and Pepper: These simple seasonings are added to the vegetables, along with a coating of Olive Oil before grilling.
- Homemade Vinaigrette Dressing: Made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper, this dressing is very easy to whisk together. You probably have all the ingredients already in your pantry.
- Fresh Basil: Stir chopped fresh basil into the salad right before serving to preserve its bright green color.
How to make this salad
First of all, get the pasta cooking. Once it’s al dente, drain it in a colander, rinse it with lots of cold water so it doesn’t keep cooking, and drain it well.
While the pasta is cooking, cut up the veggies into large chunks and coat them with olive oil and seasoning.
Get your grill preheating and put the vegetables, except for the tomatoes, in a perforated grill basket. (If it isn’t grilling weather, you can grill them on the stove in a cast iron grill pan.)
It will take about ten minutes of grilling to get the vegetables tender and lightly charred, depending on how hot your grill is and how well done you like them.
Remove the veggies from the basket, and add the tomatoes, grilling those for just a couple of minutes. Fish out the garlic cloves and finely chop them, adding them back to the bowl.
Whisk up the vinaigrette (you could do this while the vegetables grill, too).
Add the vinaigrette to the bowl with the vegetables, along with the pasta. Add the fresh basil, and toss lightly.
The salad can be served at room temperature or cold.
Ratatouille is a cooked vegetable stew originating in Nice, France. While there are many recipes and cooking methods, common ingredients are tomato, eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette), bell pepper, onion, garlic, and herbs. Often, instead of a stew, ratatouille is decoratively layered and baked.
Ratatouille is traditionally a vegetarian and vegan recipe, and so is this pasta salad recipe.
Eggplant, one of the ingredients in ratatouille, is a nutritious fruit (although it’s usually considered a vegetable) that is low in calories and carbohydrates. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber (Healthline).
It’s preferable to leave the peeling on because it contains a powerful antioxidant called nasunin. Cooked properly, the peeling should be soft and edible unless the eggplant is overly mature or large.
Make It Your Own
- Add protein. Fresh mozzarella cheese, canned cannelini beans, or pepperoni are good choices. Replacing the pasta with cheese-filled tortellini is another tasty option.
- Change up the vegetables. If you don’t have, or don’t like, one of the vegetables, skip it or substitute something different, like mushrooms, cauliflower, green beans, or yellow summer squash.
- Roast the vegetables instead of grilling them. Prepare as directed, arrange in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan, and bake in a preheated oven at 425°F until vegetables are tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Voila! Call your salad a “roasted vegetable pasta salad.”
- Try a different homemade vinaigrette, such as red wine vinaigrette, Italian dressing, or buy a bottled dressing.
Make the pasta the night before. If you’re having pasta, make extra to use for the salad. Stir up the vinaigrette and store it in the fridge for up to a week. Cut up the veggies a day ahead, put into a plastic bag or covered bowl and refrigerate.
This grilled vegetable pasta salad can be refrigerated and stored for up to five days. It makes a super good lunch!
Have lots of leftover salad? Make a casserole! Combine leftovers with cooked turkey sausage or ground turkey and this easy microwave cheese sauce. Pour it into a greased casserole dish, top with additional shredded cheese, if desired, and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until heated through.
More pasta salad recipes
Whether you like creamy dressings or vinaigrettes, I have you covered. Try:
- The Best Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
- Tortellini Pasta Salad with pepperoni and Italian vinaigrette
- Bruschetta Orzo Pasta Salad
- Creamy Southwestern Orzo Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad with Feta and Beans
- Summer Pasta Salad
- Spring Orzo Salad with arugula, asparagus, pine nuts
- Orzo Salad Recipe with yogurt dill dressing
- ½ pound (8 oz.) uncooked short pasta such as ziti, penne, or farfalle
- 1 small eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into ½ -inch pieces
- 2 small zucchini (5-6 oz. each), halved, cut into ½ -inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 large tomatoes (12 oz. each), cut into quarters
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (see note)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta al dente as directed on package. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Meanwhile, heat a grill pan (or a grill, if you have a grill basket) over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, toss together eggplant, zucchini, red onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Grill vegetables, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and charred all over. Place in a large mixing bowl. Separate garlic from the vegetables, finely mince it, and add back to bowl. Grill tomatoes, 2-3 minutes each side. Let cool slightly and chop into bite-size pieces, adding to bowl with vegetables.
- Add cooked and cooled pasta; toss lightly to mix.
- In small bowl or measuring cup, combine dressing ingredients: olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic powder, black pepper. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
- Add dressing and chopped basil to bowl with vegetables and pasta. Stir lightly to combine. Serve at room temperature or cold.
- If not serving immediately, reserve basil and add immediately before serving.
- Leftover salad may get a bit dry as the pasta continues to absorb the dressing. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and vinegar to moisten, as desired.
- Add protein. Fresh mozzarella cheese, canned cannelini beans, or pepperoni are good choices. Replacing the pasta with cheese filled tortellini is another option.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.