A quick scan of the pasta section of The Bold Vegetarain Cookbook on Tuesday morning turned up this fairly delicious sounding recipe. Cindy and I aren't averse to eating eggplant, but I don't think we'd ever roasted it before and that, along with the promise of pine nuts and cheese, was enough to make this recipe our meal for the night. Of course I didn't really read the recipe in the morning and so I was a little surprised that it all took so long to prepare. Luckily, it was mostly worth it, with the blended eggplant and capsicum sauce and the fresh oregano making for a tasty meal - of course if I'd remembered to tip the toasted pine nuts into the mix, it would probably have been even better.
Penne with roasted eggplant, peppers and feta cheese*
*we replaced the feta with parmesan, mainly because we had a good sized chunk of parmesan in the fridge, but I think it was probably a better flavour to combine with the other ingredients anyway.
500g eggplant (I used 3 smallish eggplants, but I've no idea how much they weighed)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 roasted red capsicums
1/4 cup crumbled parmesan
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh oregano
fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
The first, and most time-consuming, step is to roast the eggplants. Pre-heat the oven to about 200 degrees and pierce each eggplant a few times. Place the eggplants on an oven tray and stick them in the oven, turning occasionally. After about an hour the eggplant should be very soft - it will basically collapse if you give it a gentle squeeze. At this point, it's done. Take the eggplants out and let them cool.
In the meantime, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until they're lightly browned. When they're done, set them aside somewhere, but don't forget all about them.
In the frying pan, cook the onion and garlic in half of the olive oil for about five minutes, until it's lightly browned.
By now, the eggplants should have cooled, so you can cut them in half and scoop out the delicious innards (the cookbook, strangely, calls this 'the meat').
Combine the eggplant innards, the peppers, the onion and garlic and the rest of the olive oil in a food processor. Just pulse them a few times, you don't want a completely smooth paste, rather a nice chunky consistency.
At this point it's pasta cooking time - everyone probably has their own methods for cooking pasta, so I'm not going to be too specific. If you like salt or oil in your boiling water, then go right ahead. When the pasta is almost ready, gently reheat the chunky sauce in a frypan or saucepan. Once the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and combine it with the sauce. Stir in the cheese and oregano, season with salt and pepper and top with a splash of the lemon juice.