If I was one to give fancy names to my recipes, this one would definitely include the word ‘rainbow’. Look at all those colours! Red, green, yellow, black, white… And a colourful meal means a meal rich in different nutrients – so this is a great way to start the new year! (how far into January do you reckon I can still refer to the ‘new year’?) It also means that every bite can be different – sweet roasted vegetables, creamy mozzarella, salty olives – these ingredients go perfectly.
Pasta salad is great for packed lunches – cook up a batch on a Sunday, and it can be taken for lunch through the week. I’ve said that this serves three, but you could probably stretch it out to four or even five lunches if you put something else with it.
I love balsamic vinegar so I made a simple balsamic dressing for this salad, but obviously you could substitute that for any other dressing you prefer. You should include some oil, some sort of acidity (e.g. vinegar / citrus), and any flavourings (e.g. herbs) you like.

Italian pasta salad with roasted vegetables and balsamic dressing
Serves 3

1 large tomato

1 red pepper
2tbsp sunflower oil
1tsp dried thyme
240g pasta
100g spinach
100g sweetcorn kernels
100g black olives, halved
100g mozzarella cheese, diced
For the dressing:
4tbsp balsamic vinegar
6tbsp olive oil
1tsp dried thyme

Heat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F).

Halve the tomato and cut each half into several thin wedges. Chop the red pepper into chunks. Spread out the vegetables in a baking dish, and drizzle with the sunflower oil and 1tsp dried thyme. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. 

Meanwhile, boil the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Once cooked, drain the pasta and rinse it in cold water to cool it down. 

Spread out the spinach on a plate, and microwave on full power for 1 minute to wilt it. Add this to the pasta, along with the halved black olives, diced mozzarella and sweetcorn kernels. 

Remove the tomato and pepper from the oven, and set aside to cool slightly. 

To make the dressing, simply combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dried thyme and a little salt. Adjust the proportions depending on your taste. 

Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, and drizzle over the dressing before eating.