this pasta dish per uno is perfect on a lazy, late summer night when you want to eat something super yummy but make a minimal effort. i felt just so on a recent evening, when i rescued a lone ichiban (that's japanese!) eggplant that was languishing in my humble balcony garden, yearning for purpose. i made this just for me, but it would easily please a crowd. (for a pound of pasta, i'd use 1-2 full sized eggplants, and obviously increase your ratio of cheese, herbs, etc.)
roasted eggplant pasta with fresh herbs
serves 1; 2 if you aren't greedy
- one good sized japanese eggplant
- about a cup of your fave pasta (i used barilla whole wheat penne)
- handful fresh herbs, i used mint and basil
- cheese (i used trader joe's TO DIE FOR honey chevre and a bit of freshly grated pecorino romano)
- toasted pine nuts (optional)
- additional olive oil for finishing the pasta (good quality extra virgin is perfecto)
1. pour yourself a glass of wine. this should be a prerequisite to any pasta dish you make, ever (or if you're me, before cooking... anything) otherwise, somewhere, an Italian person cries. seriously.
2. preheat oven to 400. line baking sheet with foil or parchment (because you really don't wanna scrape browned eggplant bits later. this is minimalism, people)
3. slice eggplant lengthwise into quarters (or rounds if using regular sized eggplant). sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper, drizzle with olive oil. if you are feeling saucy (i was), add a garlic clove or two coated in oil to the sheet... the garlic will roast nicely alongside your eggplant and add a lovely depth of flavor to the sauce.
4. roast eggplant about 25-35 minutes, flipping a few times (i lost count... too busy drinking wine). basically, the skin should get toasted and wrinkly-looking, the insides brownish and soft. you can't really over-roast (the more tender, the better), but please don't under-roast-- no one likes tough, bitter eggplant.
5. meanwhile, gently salt and boil water, cook pasta al dente.
6. while pasta is cooking, roughly chop herbs, toast handful of pine nuts (if using) in a skillet over medium heat. (those bitches burn easy, so watch 'em!)
7. when eggplant is done, chop up into bite size pieces. toss with cooked pasta, throw in herbs and pine nuts. sprinkle cheese on top, finish with a drizzle of olive oil. add a bit more pepper if you like (i like).
8. pour yourself another glass of wine, and enjoy! this is so much better than takeout.