August 20, 2011

Roasted Eggplant & Red Pepper Sauce with Rigatoni


Well, first I'd like to admit, this isn't my photograph.  (Compliments of www.mygourmetconnection.com, which is a really great site for recipes!) I didn't get around to actually putting together the entire dish, but I did make the sauce.  This is one of my new favorite recipes I've cooked up.  I like the taste of eggplant, but I'm not a huge fan of the texture -- so using this recipe allows me the best of both worlds.  The taste of roasted eggplant, without the weird cottony texture.

What You'll Need:
1 Medium Sized Eggplant
1 Yellow Onion
2 Large Bell Peppers, (I had one green, one red, but I prefer to use both red)
3 Cloves Garlic
1/4 Cup - Diced Tomatoes with Juices
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1/4 Cup - Green and/or Kalamata Olives
1 lb. - Rigatoni, Penne, or any pasta you like (preferably something with ridges)
A few fresh basil leaves
Parmesan cheese

Start by cubing the eggplant, onion, and bell peppers, and give the garlic cloves a rough chop.  Don't worry about making all the pieces uniform in size... all of this will go through the food processor.  (Or, in my case, the magic bullet!)

Gather your chopped pieces in a large mixing bowl, and add olive oil.  The eggplant soaks up the olive oil very, very quickly, so make sure you use enough to coat all of your vegetables.  Add salt and pepper, a few teaspoons of each will do for now.  Transfer all of the oil-coated veggies on to a greased baking sheet, and distribute evenly.  Make sure it's only one layer, so everything roasts together evenly.  Pop the baking sheet into a 400-degree oven, and let the vegetables roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until there's a nice char on the peppers.

After the vegetables have roasted properly, transfer them to your food processor.  Add the diced tomatoes and start processing.  Stream in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil while the vegetables are being processed.

Now... you have a choice here.  I really like olives, a lot.  If you'd like, you can throw your olives in the food processor with the rest of the vegetables so you just get the taste throughout.  Since I really like olives, I just give them a rough chop, and fold them into the sauce when I put it on the stove, so I can still see them in the sauce, and so when I dig in, I get to bite down on some large olive chunks.  Whatever works for you.  While you are processing all of your vegetables, make sure you have a pot of water on the stove, and drop your pasta when it comes to a roaring boil... and don't forget to salt the water!

You'll know you are done processing when your mixture begins to take on the texture of hummus.  Transfer your mix to a large skillet, and with that, stir in a few ladles of starchy pasta water.  If you did a rough chop on your olives, now would be a good time to fold them into the sauce. Drain your pasta and add it to the skillet.  Before mixing everything together, add a few handfuls of parmesan cheese to the top of the "naked" pasta.  This will help the sauce stick to all the pasta when mixing.

In the skillet, mix everything together and transfer to a large pasta bowl.  Chop some basil, chiffonade-style, and sprinkle atop the pasta.  I would add more cheese when plating it for myself, but that's because I'm crazy about cheese... you can simply scoop and enjoy!





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