I have a rocky relationship with pasta salad. It usually looks so appetizing, but turns out to be nothing more than mushy noodles in bland, overly oily Italian dressing. I haven’t really bothered to make many pasta salads myself because it just didn’t seem like it was worth the trouble.
But you know how it goes. Something catches your eye and you start thinking about using these ingredients this way, and adapting the recipe that way, and before you know it, you’re elbows deep in a culinary experiment that you hope will actually be as appealing on the plate as it was in your brain.
In this case, I was inspired, once again, by Orangette. In particular, her post on salsa verde for potatoes. I love potatoes, but I’ve been eating them a lot, so I wanted to come up with some other starch to serve as a vehicle for the delicious-sounding salsa verde. Pasta salad seemed like a natural choice, and I figured it may be the perfect opportunity to give it another chance.
I added some roasted Japanese eggplant for textural contrast and because eggplant has that admirable quality of absorbing flavors and making them taste richer.
The end result was a pasta salad I actually like, and will definitely be making again!
(adapted from Orangette)
3 medium Japanese eggplants
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups dried fusili pasta
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp capers, chopped
3 tbsp chopped parsley
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lemon zest and juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, capers, parsley, and a pinch of salt. Set aside to allow the flavors to blend.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Cut the eggplants into bite-sized cubes and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt.
Let stand for about 30 minutes, or until you see droplets of water all over the eggplant pieces.
Blot dry, then toss with 2 tbsp olive oil.
Bake on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes, or until soft and golden.
Set aside to cool.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, and toss with the eggplant and salsa verde.