Even though this dinner requires turning on the oven, it makes enough to serve us for several meals, is great eaten cold, and makes the most of veggies that are at their best in spring and summer. It is great as a “clean out the fridge” meal, but we often buy all the ingredients just in order to make it, it’s that tasty.
It’s not too complicated, really: roast all the veggies you have in the house with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and mix it up with some pesto-dressed pasta. Add some pan-seared chicken if you want, or maybe some meat substitute if you’d prefer. Leave it out altogether and it’s just as tasty.
I try to get the veggie pieces to be approximately the same size, but because all these veggies are equally good at different levels of doneness, it’s not that worrisome, either. A nice olive oil and a healthy amount of salt and pepper are all they need.
As to the chicken, well, I admit to a shameless love of Mrs. Dash seasoning blends on chicken. Before I prep the veggies I rub Mrs. Dash and oil into a chicken breast, and then I pan-sear it. If I had a grill, I’d grill all the veggies and the chicken, for sure, but I live in an apartment in New York City, which means instead I get the oven nice and hot and wish I had better air flow through the apartment when the windows are open.
Roasted Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad
1 lb white button mushrooms
2 heads broccoli
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, give or take
1 red bell pepper
1 bunch asparagus (not pictured)
Salt & pepper
1 lb pasta shape, such as gemelli
1/2 cup prepared pesto
1 chicken breast pounded to 3/4 inch thick
2 T Mrs. Dash seasoning
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Clean all the veggies and dice into approximately the same size pieces, generally about an inch long or to best match the size of the pasta. Place on baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil (two tablespoons a baking sheet?), sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast 20–25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, do not rinse, and dress with pesto while still hot.
Meanwhile, rub the chicken with olive oil and Mrs. Dash. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken until done, about 6 minutes a side. I always cover the pan after I flip it so the steam and ambient heat helps finish the cooking. Let it rest before cutting up into strips or bite-sized pieces.
Toss all the veggies with the pasta and chicken. As you can see, this dinner is heavy on veggies and light on pasta—that’s just how we like it. Serve in shallow bowls and enjoy. Add some grated parmesan if you want.