½pound(8 oz.) uncooked short pasta such as ziti, penne, or farfalle
1small eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into ½ -inch pieces
2small zucchini (5-6 oz. each), halved, cut into ½ -inch pieces
1medium red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
2large tomatoes (12 oz. each), cut into quarters
½teaspoonground black pepper
¼cupchopped fresh basil (see note)
¼cupextra virgin olive oil
2tablespoonswhite balsamic vinegar
⅛teaspooncoarse 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.