Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meaty yet Meatless Pasta with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Well it's almost that time of year again. The time of year that makes me want to hide in the closet with a pack of Oreos (I keep some there for emergencies next to a box of unfortunate looking boots I bought one night while sipping and clicking online...)

Anyway, you know the time of year I'm talking about - the dreaded penance time for all the celebrating we've been doing. That said, I rarely manage to do any serious boot camping or calorie counting after the holidays. Instead I like to tell myself that eating more veg and less sweets makes for a saner, more realistic approach. So I dig through my archives and pull out recipes like this one - an oldie but a goodie from Giada.

I have to admit on the surface it's a pasta only a mother could love. The color is a bit like wet clay and there's not much you can do to dress it up. But it's (reasonably) healthy, fairly quick, and so easy a caveman could do it. Plus it's got a feisty little kick to it which I love. The last thing I'll say about it is even though it has eggplant in the sauce, non eggplant lovers would never know it's there. The overall taste is undefinable yet delicious. Rich and hearty like a meat sauce yet much, much lighter.

Me likey.

PS - the beautiful bowl above was a Christmas gift from my mom and stepdad. It's so beautiful I want to curl up and sleep in it!

Meaty yet Meatless Pasta with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
*Use more eggplant than you think is necessary. For instance I used 3 large (long, rather) Japanese eggplant thinking it would be WAY too much and it wasn't. A good rule of thumb is to take out your largest roasting pan and load it up.
* Don't forget to reserve as much pasta water as the recipe says - you'd be surprised by how thick the veggie mixture can get.

1 large regular eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes (or 3-4 long thin, Japanese style eggplant)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, whole but peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus extra for sprinkling over
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound rigatoni pasta or spiral or penne pasta
small handful of fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons lemon flavored olive oil (if you don't have any use regular extra virgin olive oil and add in the zest of a whole lemon)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling over each portion

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (you don't have to do this - just helps with cleanup.)

In a large bowl combine the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden but not charred, about 35 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish. Place in the oven on the rack below the vegetables. Roast until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid.

Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor. Add the basil and lemon extra-virgin olive oil (or plain EV olive oil and lemon zest if substituting.) Puree the vegetables.

Transfer the pureed vegetables to the bowl with the pasta and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta is saucy. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and serve along with any additional parm you like and/or freshly torn basil


AllThingsYummy said...

This looks perfect for a Meatless Monday dish, but only if you're sure I won't taste eggplant.ick!
The bowl is gorgeous.

ashley @ ashley's adventures in alaska said...

I've NEVER tried eggplant, but this makes me want to! Way to push me outside of my comfort zone- gosh!

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

All Things Yummy - yes it is! Of course if you're REALLY phobic you could roast some portabellos instead and blend with the tomatoes but I really don't think you'll know the eggplant is there. My husband didn't and he hates eggplant;)

Ashley - Always makes me nervous to make someone try something they're weary of but I can always blame Giada if you don't like it, right? ;)

Unknown said...

MMMMMM!! I love me some meat in my pasta, but if it can be good without it and sort of healthy, than that's even better!!! This looks wonderful!

Unknown said...

OMG your right...COme January I have to now feel bad about the last few months! LOL

This pasta looks so good to me, lovely bowl too!

Happy New Year, keep up your wonderful blog this 2011

Unknown said...

Oh this looks SO SO delicious! I am a mother and well I DO see such beauty in that bowl full of goodness! That is a beautiful bowl too! Happy New Year! XO