Roasted Eggplant Pasta Salad

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.

Salsa Verde 2

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!

Eggplant pasta salad 2

(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.


10 Responses to “Roasted Eggplant Pasta Salad”

  1. 1 Lisa August 3, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I love roasted eggplant and this looks like such a simple but flavorful dish.

  2. 2 Erin August 3, 2009 at 7:50 am

    That looks really good! I love eggplant.

  3. 3 Eralda August 3, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Eggplant makes everything taste better, even pasta salads, although, I must say that it looks delicious! Not mushy or over oily, just right. Yumy!

  4. 4 Colleen August 4, 2009 at 5:40 am

    I have never had eggplant in a pasta salad but I love roasted eggplant so will have to give this a try!

  5. 5 lesley August 5, 2009 at 4:20 am

    Hello, I’ve just stumbled upon your site after reading the post from Orangette. I smiled when I saw you have a rocky relationship with pasta salad, why? because I did too, I always deligated someone else to make, when we were having “a bit of a do” I’m more comfortable with it now though, but it took some time lol
    The photo’s are beautiful!

  6. 6 Rebekka August 5, 2009 at 5:16 am

    So, yeah….this is PERFECT right now! I have so much eggplant and am running out of creative ways to use it. Thanks!

  7. 7 Lainie August 5, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Wow – what gorgeous pictures. I’m not a huge eggplant fan but your pictures make me want to test this recipe!

  8. 8 Brianna August 5, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    I love that you used Japanese eggplant in this! I’ve never thought to do that. Looks great.

  9. 9 Molly Jean August 6, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Does Japanese eggplant have a distinctly different flavor and/or texture than the eggplant I would by in the states?

    This does look great, Cate!!!

  10. 10 Verena Frasier September 3, 2010 at 10:15 am

    This looks like it’s worth making. Hope it doesn’t take too long.

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