Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Pasta with Spicy Carrot Top/Basil Pesto

I went a bit crazy at Saturday's farmers' market.  Greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, flowers and eggplant...lots and lots of eggplant.  Everything looked so amazingly fresh and beautiful and hard to pass up.  Now...what to do with it all?  A pasta dish is almost always the answer in my house.

I love slow roasting in-season tomatoes and a few weeks ago I posted a recipe over on my other blog Napa Farmhouse 1885.  Today I decided to try the same technique with eggplant and combine with tomatoes and pesto. I loved the results as did my family and friends.  So, today's post...roasted eggplant & tomato pasta with pesto.

I have been so inspired by the current tip-to-tail movement, the idea of eating the entire vegetable plant...roots, greens, bulb, etc.  I have found that, for example, beets tops are as delicious and even more nutritious than the bulb.  Or who doesn't love the skin as much as the interior of the potato? (I actually like the skin better).  So yesterday, after I made a huge carrot salad and was left with a pile of the green tops and leaves, I decided to try and use them in a pesto.  Guess what?  They are delicious.

I combined the carrot tops with basil and mint leaves and used toasted walnuts, extra virgin olive oil and parmigiano reggiano cheese to make a version of classic pesto.  A pinch of red pepper flakes added a nice bit of heat.  This pesto, combined with the roasted eggplant and tomatoes, makes a delicious and hearty pasta for a warm summer night.  enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Pasta with Spicy Carrot Top/Basil Pesto
(serves 4 as a main course)

2 pints cherry tomatoes
2-3 medium eggplants, about 1 1/2 lbs total, cut into 2 inch cubes
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
coarse grey sea salt
1 lb whole wheat pasta, penne or fusilli
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 cup packed carrot top leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
pinch red pepper flakes 
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated, plus more for garnishing if desired
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place cherry tomatoes on one sheet, prick each one with the tip of a knife and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (about 3 passes of each bottle)  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Repeat process with eggplant cubes (sans the knife pricking process).  Roast in preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and set aside.

Bring large pot of water to a boil, add 2 handfuls of salt and the pasta. Cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving the pasta water.

Prepare pesto by combining basil, carrot leaves, mint leaves, garlic, walnut pieces and red pepper flakes in bowl of food processor. Pulse until smooth.  With machine running pour in olive oil until combined. Add cheese, process until smooth.  Taste and stir in pinch of sea salt if needed. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large skillet. Scrape all ingredients from tomato and eggplant pans into skillet. (include all the oil and juices) Add pasta, pesto and 1/2 ladle full of pasta water, stir until creamy. (add additional pasta water if needed) Add pinch each sea salt and black pepper and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Cook an additional minute.  Serve garnished with additional parmigiano cheese if desired.

It is "eggplant" week at Food Network's Summerfest roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite eggplant recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one:
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Eggplant with Sumac, Capers and Mint

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Eggplant Pepper Mushroom Turkey Sausage Hash
Chez Us: Baba Ghanoush
Taste With The Eyes: Cold Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Eggplant Fritter Burgers with Sriracha Chili Mayo
Red or Green: Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta with Spicy Carrot Top/Basil Pesto
Weelicious: Eggplant Parmesan Sticks
Devour: 5 Takes on Grilled Eggplant
The Sensitive Epicure: Szechwan Eggplant
Domesticate Me: Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette
And Love It Too: Roasted Garlic Baba Ganouj
FN Dish: Eggplant, No Forks Necessary

My best,
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  1. Roasted tomatoes are outstanding and you just made them better by tossing eggplant into the mix. Great dish!

  2. thanks denise! i am addicted to roasted tomatoes in the summer...