Eggplant Ricotta Pasta Salad is one delicious, light, and satisfying summer meal.
But I’ve got one serious question first. It’s truly a philosophical issue which we should resolve.
What’s the difference between a regular pasta dish and a pasta salad? Can we distinguish between them? Is this Eggplant Ricotta Pasta Salad really a salad?
Well, let’s try to figure this out.
First of all, pasta is normally served while hot, so we can assume a pasta salad might be served when chilled. Sounds simple. And that might be the truth. But what about a warm pasta salad, eh? In fact, I ate this Eggplant Ricotta Pasta Salad a little lukewarm, so this thesis doesn’t always work.
Next, a pasta salad is something that could be considered a side dish. I believe it might work for many people. Not for me, though. I always have my pasta salads, like this Tomato Pasta Salad, as the main dish. It’s always satisfying, and besides I just don’t want to mix it with anything else.
What’s next? Obviously, a salad usually consists of some greens. And I love adding peppery robust arugula in pasta salads. But what about any regular pasta? The same story! You can garnish a bowl of hot pasta with some arugula or other leaves, or get them slightly wilted with the sauce, or make a pesto! Getting complicated, isn’t it?
All right, I have one thing left. It’s very solid one. Or might be not.
Dressing! Dressing is a must for any salad. If we are talking about a classic macaroni salad which is often dressed with a mayo sauce, this is 100% a correct example. You don’t add mayo in a classic Italian pasta dish, do you? If you do…well…sorry, I’ve got a bad news for you, kids. But personally I don’t like heavy sauces in my pasta salads so I usually just slightly drizzle them with olive oil and balsamic.
And you know what? I do use olive oil while making pasta. And yes, sometimes I add a little of balsamic as well!
Stop. I guess we are going nowhere.
But I think it’s absolutely fine, guys. Pasta or pasta salad…whatever you call a dish, the only one thing that matters is its taste. And trust me, this Eggplant Ricotta Pasta Salad won’t disappoint you.
Eggplant Ricotta Pasta Salad with tomatoes, basil, and walnuts.
* This method prevents eggplant from being soggy and oily how it often happens while roasting eggplant. You can also roast them in the oven or fry with a little oil on the skillet.
1,5 cups dry pasta
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced
6-8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
handful of basil
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, crushed
1 small eggplant (1-1,5 cups sliced)
a good drizzle of olive oil and balsamic
Place the sliced eggplant on a dry skillet and cook over medium heat 5 minutes, turning once. By this time the excessive liquids will have been released. At this point you can slightly season the eggplant with the salt and pepper - no oil is still required. Continue cooking over high heat for another 5-6 minutes, flipping over them occasionally, until slightly brown and soft*
In a meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Rinse under running water (to stop cooking process) and drain.
Place the pasta, eggplant, sun-dried and dresh tomatoes, basil, arugula in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and mix. You can serve the salad immediately or keep in the fridge until ready to serve.