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What's for Dinner?! Bowtie Pasta with Eggplant, Caramelized Onions, and Pine Nuts

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Monday, August 8, 2011

What's for Dinner?! Bowtie Pasta with Eggplant, Caramelized Onions, and Pine Nuts

I've had access to my fabulous neighbor's vegetable garden this summer and because of that, I've had more occasions to try new recipes with uber-fresh ingredients just a short walk away.

I've never been someone who is bowled over by eggplant...I guess I've just never met the perfect way to cook it...until now.

I tried this recipe when my friend Susan came to visit a couple of weeks ago, and we both agreed that it's a keeper for sure! I've made it again since then because it's so good.  It's easy, you can make it mostly all ahead, and it's so so yummy!  Despite the fact that it doesn't contain any meat either, it's very filling, and even the most meat eating man would be satisfied with this one!

Once again, this recipe owes a shout out to one of my favorites, the Foster's Market Cookbook.

You'll need:
  • 1 lb bowtie pasta (I was out of that so I used Rotini)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 Vidalia or other sweet onions cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 eggplants peeled, diced, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 roasted red bell peppers, peeled, cored, seeded, and julienned (I cheated on this one and just bought roasted red peppers in a jar and julienned them myself)
  • 1/2 c. fresh parsley (fresh herbs are pretty crucial in this one ya'll!)
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves, cut into very fine strips (chiffonade)
  • 1/2 c. Italian vinaigrette (Wisk together 1/4 c. red wine vinegar, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 2 tsp dried oregano, 3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste )
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts, toasted
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 c. crumbled goat cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally about 8-10 minutes or until al dente.  Drain and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil and set aside.
  3. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over med-low heat.  Add the onions and cook and stir about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, reduce heat to low, and cook and stir 20-25 minutes longer, until the onions are soft, brown, and caramelized.  Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, toss the remaining olive oil and remaining balsamic vinegar with the eggplant and garlic and mix to coat evenly.  Spread in a single layer in a baking pan and place in the oven to roast for 25-30 minutes.  Stir several times during the cooking process, until the eggplant is lightly brown and tender.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Combine the pasta, onions, eggplant-garlic mixture, roasted red peppers, pine nuts, parsley, basil, and vinaigrette and toss lightly to mix.  Season with salt and pepper and add the goat cheese.  Toss gently to mix again.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Below I put a picture of how the onions should look once they are caramelized.  The left picture is of the eggplant on the baking sheet and the onions at the beginning.  On the right is how the onions look when they are done caramelizing.  Just thought I'd show you...I've been asked about caramelizing onions before and have a few recipes that call for them.





Bon Apettit!

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