I have had to get really creative with eggplant this summer. We get a big haul of it in each CSA box, and I’m just not used to cooking with it much. For one, the hubby was, until fairly recently, not eggplant’s biggest fan. For another, eggplant does really well in the heat, and heat is something we have a lot more of in Texas that we did in Northern California.
Despite the fact that this is the third eggplant pasta recipe I have posted in recent memory, they are all quite different, and this one was delicious. Plus, as I modified it, it used up some leftover caramelized onions, and a handful of cherry tomatoes that I didn’t have another use for, so that’s always a bonus.
It was perfect with a nice glass of 2007 Ridge Buchinani Ranch Carignane. There’s nothing like opening a nice bottle of wine to make a weeknight feel special!
Fusilli with Roasted Eggplant and Goat Cheese
Based on this recipe from Food & Wine, January 2010
1 medium eggplant, cubed
4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup cherry tomatoes (optional)
3/4 lb fusilli
2 Tbs pine nuts
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
4 Tbs caramelized onions (optional)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant and tomatoes (if using) with 2 Tbs of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the eggplant and tomatoes (if using) on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Using a spatula, turn the eggplant, scraping it off the baking sheet (it might break up slightly) and roast for about 5 minutes longer, until very tender.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fusilli until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
In a large sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing frequently, until lightly golden in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a work surface and coarsely chop them.
Heat the remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil in the sauté pan. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Add the crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add the fusilli, roasted eggplant and tomatoes, caramelized onion (if using), chopped pine nuts, lemon juice and the reserved pasta water and toss over the heat until the pasta is evenly coated. Season the pasta with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Add the parsley and toss. Add the goat cheese and toss gently until the cheese is slightly melted. Spoon the fusilli into bowls and serve.
* We had some caramelized onions left over from our latest grilled pizza adventure, so I just threw them in, but they added a really nice touch. You can always caramelize a small onion to add, if you’re not as lucky as I am to have them already on hand. Just slice the onion thinly, sauté it over medium heat in 1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs olive oil until it’s softened, and then turn the heat down to low and cook it until it’s meltingly soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.