Herby Roasted Farmers Market Pasta Salad with Mint, Basil and Pistachios
I know I can't be the only one who likes her salads to be cozy, right? A hefty dose of carbs (pasta, roasted potatoes, cubed and toasted sourdough bread) always seem to make the idea of "salad for dinner" more attractive to me. This pasta salad features some underutilized farmers market favorites, roasted up and tossed with lemon juice, lemon zest, chopped herbs, rotini pasta and crunchy pistachios. Its the sort of big, messy dish I like to make for summer potluck dinner parties with my friends, or serve at a barbecue alongside some meatier dishes. Fresh and comforting at the same time? Yeah, I want to eat that.
I specifically developed this recipe because I wanted something versatile to make with the produce I've been getting at my local farmers market. In the Summer my husband and I have a stand at the markets where we sell his house roasted cold brew coffee by the cup (we built a commissary kitchen in my back yard for his roastery and brew operation, did I not tell you guys this?). Anyway, we often trade our coffee for produce and flowers, which the farmers greatly appreciate and we of course absolutely love. I end up with a lot of amazing but random produce in my kitchen week to week. And on top of that I've got a bit of produce coming in from my garden, so I'm getting somewhat weighed down with fresh veggies. What a problem to have! It's easy to blast through a trough of tomatoes, eggplant, kale and fresh fruit. But the less-beloved veg -- usually cabbage, beets, squash, onions and herbs -- always get left around until they're wilting.
Thats where this roasted veg pasta salad comes in! A simple template for using up those forlorn bits and bobs.
In this recipe I suggest using cabbage, summer squash, beets, red onion, basil and mint. But you could make your own riff with whatever came in your most recent CSA box or with what's left from your last farmers market run. So for example, you could do brussels sprouts, patty pan squash, purple potatoes, shallots, basil and fennel fronds. Or you could do red cabbage, zucchini, carrots, Vidalia onion, basil and shiso. I love that you can mess around with the vegetables and no matter what you get a lovely, hearty salad out of it.
Last thing, I used to be a bit shy about combining basil and mint, it seemed sort of wack to me. But I've been messing with using the combo in salads all Summer and I've discovered that I absolutely love how the two play together. Basil and mint together are just pure Summer-y freshness. Using basil and mint in big, bold quantities together reminds me of fresh Lebanese / Persian / Mediterranean cuisine, and that's a very very good thing.
Farmers Market Pasta Salad
Notes: I use gluten free rice rotini pasta for this dish.
1 medium savoy cabbage, cored and sliced into wedges
1 red onion, sliced into wedges
2 medium zucchini or patty pan squash, sliced into 2” pieces
5-7 small beets, sliced into small wedges (~2 cups)
3 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp black pepper, ground
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
2 cups cooked pasta (~6oz dried pasta)
1/2 cup basil chopped, lightly packed
1/2 cup mint chopped, lightly packed
1/4 cup toasted pistachio nutmeats, lightly chopped (hazelnuts, pine nuts and almonds are great subs)
zest and juice 1 lemon
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (not necessary, but helps with easy clean up). Toss the cabbage and onion wedges together with 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp sea salt and ½ tsp black pepper. Spread out onto one parchment lined baking sheet being careful that the veg isn’t overlapping -- for maximum caramelization factor. Toss the sliced squash and beets together with 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp black pepper and ¼ tsp smoked paprika. Spread out on your second parchment lined baking sheet.
Set the cabbage / onion on the bottom rack and the squash / beets on the middle rack. Roast for 10 minutes then remove the cabbage / onion -- it should be just cooked through and blackening at the edges. If the cabbage still seems firm, roast for another 5 minutes.
Roast the squash / beets for 5 minutes more, until fork tender, for a total of 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.
While the veg is roasting, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking to one another.
Combine all of the veg on one of the sheet pans, then toss in the pasta, basil, mint, chopped pistachios (or whatever nut you like), lemon juice and lemon zest and nutritional yeast. Drizzle 1 last tbsp of olive oil over it all. Give it a taste and adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice according to your liking.
Serve warm. This pasta salad is extra fabulous with a little bit of smokey goat gouda or parmesan. Enjoy!