Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Eggplant Pasta with Walnut Pesto

This pasta dish is a great way to serve eggplant.  The roasted eggplant is mixed with a tangy walnut and sun-dried tomato pesto as well as salty goat or feta cheese.  The pasta is great hot or cold, making this a great dish to bring to a potluck, pack for lunch, etc.  

Eggplant Pasta with Walnut Pesto (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 4

For the pesto:
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted in a skillet
3 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T sun dried tomato pesto or 2-3 minced sun dried tomatoes
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Several leaves of fresh basil
Kosher salt
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

For the pasta:
1 medium eggplant
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
3/4 pounds pasta
Crumbled cheese, such as ricotta salata or goat (optional)

1. Make the pesto. Combine the walnuts, cheese, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, chili flakes, thyme, and basil in a food processor with a generous pinch of salt.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add the rice vinegar and olive oil and pulse until combined.  Taste and add more salt, vinegar, or olive oil as preferred.  Set aside.
2. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch slices.  Grill or roast in the oven until cooked through.  For grill, oil both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium high 8 minutes on the first side and 5-8 minutes on the second side, until charred.  For oven, preheat oven to 425 degrees, coat a baking sheet with oil, and arrange eggplant in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, roast 15-20 minutes, and flip.  Sprinkle with more salt and pepper and roast an additional 10-12 minutes.
3. Chop the eggplant into chunks.
4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Reserve a cup of pasta water and then drain.
5. Combine the pasta, pesto, and chopped eggplant.  Taste, and adjust seasoning, adding more oil or pasta water if needed to get the consistency you prefer.  Add cheese if desired.

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