Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Arugula Pesto Pasta

Flavor-packed and dramatic, this is a jazzy dish that’s perfect for guests, yet easy enough for a great family dinner.

An easy arugula pesto is tossed with cooked pasta and loads of oven-roasted shallots, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes. The flavorful veggies roast with warm Za’atar Seasoning, which is a Mediterranean herb blend of dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, ground sumac, and marjoram or oregano. You may find Za’atar seasoning in your grocery store spice aisle like I did, but you’ll find it for sure in spice shops, specialty food markets, and online. The seasoning is subtle and aromatic, and helps build a winning meal that’s colorful, exotic, and delicious.

ROASTED MEDITERRANEAN VEGETABLES WITH ARUGULA PESTO PASTA

Roasted Vegetables

8 shallots, thinly sliced
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cut into a large dice
4 zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds, then quartered
20 grape tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and black coarse ground pepper
Za’atar seasoning

Pasta

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti or linguine

Pesto

4 cloves of garlic
6 cups fresh arugula
1 cup fresh basil
4 tablespoons tahini
1/2 cup raw walnuts
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and black coarse ground pepper

Garnish

Toasted cashews, almonds, or hazelnuts, finely chopped (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line 2 large baking sheets or roasting pans with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets, and set aside.

Place prepped shallots, bell peppers, zucchini, and grape tomatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and Za’atar seasoning. Transfer seasoned vegetables to prepared baking pans. Roast vegetables for 45 or 50 minutes, or until tender, stirring once about halfway through, and adding a splash or two of water to prevent sticking to the pan.

Once the veggies are in the oven, it’s time for the pesto and the pasta!

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the hot pasta water, then drain cooked pasta, and transfer to a large serving platter.

Meanwhile, in a full-size food processor (I use a large Cuisinart), mince the garlic. To the minced garlic, add arugula, basil, tahini, walnuts, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Add a sprinkle of Kosher salt and black coarse ground pepper, and blend in the reserved pasta liquid. Process until smooth.

Pour finished pesto sauce over cooked pasta, and toss to coat well. Top with roasted vegetables. Garnish (if desired) with toasted nuts sprinkled over the top, and serve hot.

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