So… I know what you’re thinking. I know.
This is quite possibly the ugliest dish I’ve ever made. Everything is this same dark greenish-purpleish hue that does not scream eat me. But wait! Don’t run away quite yet.
This pasta is really good. It’s my favorite pasta I’ve made recently, and that’s saying a lot. AJ liked it so much, too, that he insisted I post it on the blog, even though it was so ugly (though he kindly didn’t use those words). So here it is – an amazingly tasty but not-so-easy-on-the-eyes Caramelized Eggplant & Pesto Pasta.
So if you’re planning on serving food to a crowd and impressing them with not only your super duper awesome cooking skills, but also with your innate ability to make the most beautiful food they’ve ever seen, I don’t know that I’d recommend this. But if you’re just sittin’ at home with your boo and wondering if you should make it, do. Definitely do.
And I also know that you and eggplant maybe aren’t the best of friends. Or your boo doesn’t like them. But ya know, sometimes you gotta step outside your comfort zone. If you handle it correctly, it’ll yield a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a complex sweetness that leaves you digging through the noodles to find the last remaining piece. I promise, if you’ve never liked eggplant, this is the recipe to try. (I’m talking to you, Elissa.)
Caramelized Eggplant & Pesto Pasta
A quick weeknight summer dinner featuring everybody’s favorite vegetable to pick on – eggplant. But prepared correctly it yields a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a complex sweetness that leaves you craving more! A simple pesto recipe to coat the noodles, and sweet ripe cherry tomatoes brings it all together.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: DInner
For the Eggplant:
- 2 medium (6″ long & skinny) eggplant, preferably the Japanese variety
- 3-5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the Pesto & Pasta:
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 heaping cups packed basil leaves (I used sweet Thai basil)
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- dash cayenne pepper
- 3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt, to taste (1/4 tsp? I never measure!)
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
For the eggplant”
- Cut the eggplant in to 1/2″ dice. Place in a colander set atop a couple paper towels (or something to catch the drips) and sprinkle very generously with salt. Toss well and let sit for 30 minutes or so. You should see beads of water form on the surface of the eggplant. Rinse briefly but thoroughly with water. Shake off as much of water as you can.
- Warm 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet and add the rinsed eggplant. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, tossing every few minutes, until nicely browned on all sides.
For the Pesto & Pasta:
- While the eggplant sweats (in the salt), boil a large pot of water and cook the noodles according to package instructions. Slice your tomatoes and set aside.
- Place all remaining pesto ingredients in a food processor and process until mostly smooth. If it won’t run through the blades, you can add more oil. Add more lemon juice, cayenne, salt, or pepper according to your taste preferences.
- Toss the pesto into the pasta until evenly distributed. Add the eggplant and tomatoes and gently toss to combine. Eat!
Use GF noodles to make gluten free!