roasted eggplant puree for pasta

Early in the summer, I had experimented with a batch of garlic scape pesto only to find myself terribly disappointed.

Today’s pasta sauce was the antithesis of that.

I was home from work by 6pm, and I’m away from the office for the rest of the week. I went to visit the plants in the garden before heading inside, and saw that some of the eggplant my mother planted was ready to be picked. I had three pretty eggplants in my greedy hands, and didn’t know what to do with them. I knew I wanted to roast them in some manner, but not much more than that.

Then, I remembered seeing an eggplant puree recipe in one of my library books. On page 130 of Giada’s Kitchen by Giada De Laurentiis was a recipe for “penne with eggplant puree.” I used the method but didn’t follow the ingredients  exactly, and still I was very pleased with the end results.

Roasted Eggplant Puree for Pasta
inspired by Giada De Laurentiis

3 small eggplants, unpeeled, cut into one inch pieces
a large handful of sweet grape tomatoes (from the market… I wish I hadn’t eaten all my tomatoes. I pop ’em like candy if they’re sweet)
2 small onions, quartered (from my CSA)
1 small bell pepper, cut into medium slices (I had a purple one from the CSA)
garlic powder (I’m out of fresh garlic cloves)
salt
red pepper flakes
olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup basil leaves, torn

Heat your oven to 400F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a separate baking dish or sheet, spread out the pine nuts and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, onions, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Pour a generous serving of olive oil over the veggies (about 3 Tbsp), and season with salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder to your liking. (I think I had about 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp kosher salt, and a generous dusting of garlic powder over the contents of the bowl.) Mix well, and spread onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Don’t let any veggies sit on top of each other. Roast for 30-35 minutes.

When the roasting is done, remove the veggies. Kill the heat and pop in the baking dish with the pine nuts. Let the pine nuts toast for about 3 minutes. (Giada’s book states 8 minutes… my pine nuts were looking almost burnt after 7 minutes, and I had to trash it.) When the nuts are toasted, remove from the oven and set aside.

In a food processor (my little 3 cup was just fine), pulse the roasted veggies with the basil leaves. It doesn’t have to be smooth, but you puree to your desired texture. Add extra virgin olive oil if you need to, or want to. Personally, I was fine without the extra oil. It all depends on how thick or thin you want the puree and how much you want a sauce consistency.

To a bowl of cooked pasta, spoon in some the eggplant puree.  Mix with the pasta to combine.  Add more puree if needed.  Penne, rigatoni, and rotini would all work for this sauce. Rotini worked well for me since my eggplant mixture was more like puree and less like sauce. Top with pine nuts, and enjoy!

I didn’t take any pictures of the final dish for one reason only…
Vegetable puree mixed with pasta isn’t the prettiest plate in the world. (^_~)

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