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Recipe: Roasted Italian Vegetable Pasta Salad

Fresh, flavorful and sure to please!

Bowl of Italian vegetable pasta salad

This pasta salad is hard to forget with its delicious mix of fresh herbs like basil and fennel, various veggies, garlic, shallots, whole-wheat pasta and Parmesan cheese. Gardeners will especially find this recipe versatile, as vegetables can be swapped or added to the zucchini, squash, tomatoes and red pepper slices.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium summer squash, quartered and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch slices and diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 garlic clove, quartered, plus 1 clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, optional
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat rotini (spiral-shaped pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into large pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Place the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, shallot, fennel, bell pepper and quartered garlic clove in an ovenproof nonstick skillet.
  3. Toss with the oil, salt (if using) and ground pepper.
  4. Roast for 6 minutes; turn and continue to roast for another 6 minutes. Remove from oven.
  5. While vegetables are roasting, cook the pasta, following package directions.
  6. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 tablespoons of cooking water, and return to the pot.
  7. Toss pasta, roasted vegetables with their juices, reserved pasta water, vinegar and minced garlic.
  8. To serve, place the vegetable pasta salad on serving plate and top with the cheese and basil.

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Ingredient health benefits

  • Tomatoes: These nightshades are a common sight in kitchens around the world, and that’s a good thing. Tomatoes have beta-carotene and lycopene, carotenoids that support your heart and eyes while also providing that delectable bright red color we all know and love. They’re also full of vitamins like folate to protect your heart and brain from disease, vitamin C to promote immunity and vitamin K for sturdy bones and healthy blood cells. Tomatoes are an unexpected source of potassium as well, which plays an important role in regulating blood pressure. And eating tomatoes regularly may even lower your cholesterol.
  • Squash: Different cultures have cultivated this family of savory fruits — which includes zucchini and summer squash — for centuries, and it’s easy to see why. Squashes are loaded with head-to-toe benefits, from free radical-fighting antioxidants to gut-helpful fiber. Like tomatoes, squashes have vitamin C and beta-carotene. But they also have magnesium, an essential mineral that your bones, heart and muscles need to help stay in top shape.
  • Red bell peppers: Full of crunch, color and flavor, red bell peppers are an excellent ingredient in any veggie dish. They’re high in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and folate (vitamin B9), and anthocyanins — essential nutrients for your immune system, eyes, heart and brain. A carotenoid called beta-cryptoxanthin may help lower your risk of cancer (along with eating lots of fruits and vegetables in general). But that’s not all! Red bell peppers also have a bit of fiber to help keep your gut on track.
  • Garlic: It doesn’t look or smell very appealing, but this secret superfood will surprise you. Garlic helps boost your immune system as part of a nutritious diet, and some research suggests it might support your heart by helping to regulate your blood pressure. It also has compounds that may fight bad bacteria that like to hang around your food.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: This well-known cooking oil is high in heart-healthy fats and has all the fat-soluble vitamins your body needs to stay healthy (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K). Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is also a good source of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, and making it a regular feature in your meals may decrease your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol while raising your “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
  • Black pepper: It’s easy to take this spice for granted, but even black pepper has perks to add to any meal. Its strong flavor helps keep you from using more salt than you need, and it also helps lower inflammation in combination with turmeric and ginger. Another little-known property of pepper is that it makes it easier for your body to absorb essential nutrients from other foods.
  • Whole-wheat pasta: Getting some goodness from whole grains doesn’t have to be a challenge. Pastas and breads that are labeled “100% whole wheat” are chock full of those little shells, which have unsaturated fats, plant-based protein and nutritious carbohydrates. They’re also rich in fiber, B vitamins and vitamin E to support your stomach, cells and skin.
  • Parmesan cheese: There’s more to cheese than calcium! Cheese is a meat-free complete protein and a surprising way to get some omega-3s, which your body uses for all kinds of vital functions such as supporting your vision and immunity. Eating cheese in moderation may help lower your blood pressure, and some cheeses have their own special benefits. Parmesan, in particular, has probiotics that promote good gut health.
  • Basil: Aside from adding some of its trademark flavor to this salad, basil has a few features of its own, like vitamin K and antioxidants. This time-honored herb might even support your brain and overall mood while lowering your stress and anxiety levels.

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Nutrition information (per serving)

Servings = 4

Calories: 330 (19% calories from fat)
Total fat: 7 g (1 g saturated fat)
Protein: 12 g
Carbohydrate: 60 g
Dietary fiber: 12 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 65 mg
Potassium: 950 mg

One of more than 150 heart-healthy recipes from the Cleveland Clinic Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook, available from Broadway Books and wherever books are sold.

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