Baby Shell Pasta Salad with Calamata Olives, Roasted Fennel and Grilled Sweet Onions
1 pound small pasta shells – uncooked
1 1/2 cups fennel bulb – cut in half lengthwise
1 large sweet onion – sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup plum tomatoes – diced
3/4 cup Calamata olives – sliced
1/2 cup fresh assorted herb leaves (such as basil, dill or parsley) – finely chopped
2 garlic cloves – unpeeled
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
Shredded Romano cheese
Crushed red chili peppers
Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water, set aside. Heat oven to 375ÂºF. Toss garlic for dressing, fennel and onion with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Spread on a cookie sheet and roast in oven until lightly browned and tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Set aside fennel and onion.
In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, barbecue sauce and lime juice. Squeeze garlic out of its peel, dice and whisk into dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Dice onion, fennel and tomatoes and add to pasta. Add olives, herbs, and dressing and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. To serve, sprinkle with Romano cheese and crushed red chili peppers.