I am hands down a carnivorous omnivore. Maybe it is a result of how I was raised, but a meal other than dessert feels incomplete without some form of animal protein on my plate. As you can imagine, this makes Fridays during Lent my not so favorite day of the week. After so many fish fiascos last Lent (mahi mahi poached in gin…not such a great idea lol), I decided to say a prayer (or two) and give vegetarian dishes a go. Enter this uber satisfying and full flavor pasta salad!
There is nothing like a full flavored dish with layers of texture to distract you from what you might be missing, like, say, some grilled chicken. Toothsome pasta, creamy eggplant and goat cheese, and crunchy chickpeas all keep your mouth guessing what might come next. However, the flavor and aroma are truly the stars here. As I was building the salad and the warm ingredients hit the raw ingredients I thought, “Oh wow, this is going to be awesome!!!” I was right! I loved how intense the roasted vegetables and raw garlic tasted and how the melted goat cheese melded all the flavors together. However, it ultimately boiled down to whether this vegetarian dish could overcome my desire for a big ol’ juicy burger. Verdict? Oh, definitely!
Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad
serves 4 as main course, 6-8 as an appetizer course
- 2 baby eggplants
- 1/2 cup diced roasted red bell pepper
- 1/2 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed clean
- 1 small shallot, finely diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 4 ounces uncooked mini farfalle
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/2 cup basil leaves torn
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff for this recipe!)
- kosher salt and pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
- Slice off tops from cleaned eggplants and slice eggplants in half lengthwise.
- Score each eggplant half by cutting shallow diagonal lines about an inch apart. Turn each piece around and cut again to create a diamond pattern.
- Brush each egg plant half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay each half face down on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
- When finished roasting, dice eggplant into bite size chunks.
- While eggplant is roasting, prepare pasta according to package directions. You will want to have both the eggplant and pasta warm (preferably hot) for when you build the salad.
- To build salad, take a large bowl and add chickpeas, diced bell pepper, shallots, garlic, lemon zest, and goat cheese. Toss to combine.
- Now add warm egg plant and pasta to bowl. Toss salad again. Goat cheese should begin melting and coating all the ingredients.
- For the finishing touches, pour lemon vinaigrette over salad along with the hand torn basil leaves. Season with kosher salt and pepper and give salad one final toss.
- Serve garnished with fresh basil leaves.
Note: I prefer this dish warm, but it can be served cold as well.