Grilled Sausage & Peppers Pasta Salad
Eating pasta salad always feels like a flashback on the happy barbecues and picnics of our youth. Remember the paper plate sagging under a burger, potato chips, and a pile of rotini, diced veggies, and cheese tossed in bottled Italian dressing? This salad is all that with a more sophisticated medley of veggies, a homemade dressing, some spicy Italian sausage, and most importantly, a hot grill.
For the veggies, we’ve got fresh sweet peppers and bitter radicchio, which we roast on the grill ‘til they’re wilty-soft and little bit charred. The Italian sausage goes on the grill, too, of course. And then we chop it all up — long and slender, to mimic the rotini. That goes in a bowl with the al dente noodles, crunchy celery, strips of milky fresh mozzarella, and a handful of peppery basil.
Now for the dressing that pulls it all together: It’s a flavorsome concoction of lemon juice and zest, tomato paste, thyme, shallots, and plenty of garlic. It tastes zippy and bright. And we love how the tomato paste helps it adhere to the noodles and adds tangy flavor — without adding a bunch of pulp and juice to the salad.
What a scrumptious forkful this salad makes! Like pasta salads of yore, it doesn’t wilt and it’s highly complementary to all manner of grillables, so it’s great for barbecues and picnics. We also like to grill up a big batch of it for a light Sunday lunch or supper, and then pack up the leftovers. It’s divine on day two, and makes Monday’s lunch something special.
1 pound rotini pasta
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 tsp thyme, chopped
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb Italian sausage
3 bell peppers (mix red, yellow, and green)
1 small radicchio, halved
2 large celery ribs, thinly sliced diagonally
¼ pound fresh mozzarella, cut into thin strips
1 cup basil, torn
Heat the grill to medium.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Drizzle the pasta lightly with olive oil and toss to coat. Let cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, stir together the lemon juice, lemon zest, tomato paste, garlic, shallot, and thyme. Stir in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and black pepper, to taste.
Put the sausages, whole bell peppers, and halved radicchio on the grill rack. Drizzle the peppers and radicchio with olive oil, and grill them until they’re charred, about 10 minutes. Grill the sausages for 20 minutes or until they reach 165º on an instant-read thermometer.
Transfer the sausages, bell peppers, and radicchio to a cutting board. Cut the sausages into 1-inch thick slices on the diagonal. Julienne the veggies.
In a large serving bowl, toss together the pasta, sausages, bell peppers, radicchio, celery, mozzarella, and dressing. Season the pasta salad with salt and black pepper, sprinkle with basil, and serve.
Recipe adapted from: Food & Wine