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Roasted Eggplant, Spicy Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta

Posted Sep 22 2010 10:29am

It’s the first day of Fall!

I’m looking forward to tonight — I am hosting a “First Day of Fall” dinner for my friends, featuring the flavors of late summer and early fall.

So far the Menu looks like this Late Summer Jalapeno Corn Chowder (me)
Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese (me)
Swiss Chard Quiche (me)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes (Robyn)
Pumpkin Beer (Marly)
A fall-inspired desert? (Laura)

It will be good. I will be sure to blog, at the exasperation of my friends, who will have to wait for me to take pictures of things. :P

~

The hint of chill in the air that’s arrived with fall has had me craving some of my favorite warm comfort foods.  I made this Roasted Eggplant, Spicy Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta the other night and it was wonderful.  This is a dish I have been making for a couple of years now.  When it was first invented, I actually made it as a baked pasta (modeled after something I had at Pasta Pomodoro and said, “I could so make this better.”)  The transition to “just throw it in a bowl” mostly occurred because I didn’t feel like waiting around for it to bake.  I also realized, however, that pieces of fresh mozzarella tossed into just-off-the-stove simmering hot tomato sauce became really, really satisfactorily melty.

Roasted Eggplant, Spicy Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Chop half a small onion, and plenty of garlic (at least 2 cloves, but the more the better).  Saute in olive oil until onion is transluscent.

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Add a can of good-quality tomatoes. I like Muir Glen Organics Fire Roasted.  Crushed tomatoes work best for this — you can pour those straight in.  I only had diced, though, but no worries — Just pulse a few times in the food processor.

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Add a nice big pinch of crushed red pepper.  One of my favorite seasonings!  If you’re not good with spicy food, go easy on this ingredient. A little bit goes a long way.

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Throw in some oregano and a glug of red wine. Let the sauce simmer.  Add some of the pasta cooking water if it gets too thick.

Lookin’ good!  If you like chunky sauce, leave as is.  If you like a smoother sauce, put half to two-thirds in the food processor, return to the pot, and simmer again.  Taste the sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.  Remove from heat and stir in a small handful of chopped fresh parsley. Reheat to a simmer just before serving.

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While the sauce is simmering, roast the eggplant.  I like using the smaller Japanese/Thai eggplants rather than the big Globe kind.  The smaller ones give you nice, bite-sized slices and also have a thinner skin.

* Side Note * I always called the eggplants shown below “Japanese Eggplants,” but according to the girl I bought these from at the farmers’ market these are actually “Thai Eggplants.” Japanese eggplants are smaller and have more of a lavender tinge.

Slice into 1/4 inch pieces and arrange on a baking sheet.

Brush both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft.

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While the eggplant is roasting, cook 1/2 lb whole wheat pasta according to package directions.  Cut some fresh mozzarella into bite-sized pieces.

When everything is done, toss the hot pasta with the hot sauce and fresh mozzarella.  Serve in a pasta bowl with the roasted eggplant. Garnish with basil ribbons.

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I’ve been thinking about what to put on my “To-Cook” list for this Fall. So far I know I want to make homemade applesauce, Palak Paneer and a recipe for Pumpkin Soup baked in the pumpkin’s own shell that I found in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I would also like to make some zucchini bread before zucchini is gone from the farmers’ market for good!

What is on your To-Cook list this Fall?


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