Late Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Eggplant

Pasta with Tomatoes, Zuchini, and EggplantIt can be difficult coming up with recipes for the bounty of fresh Red Hook Farm vegetables every week.  We all need a break, even me.  That’s why this week, my girlfriend, Scarlett, is using a variety of fresh, delicious CSA produce to create a tasty pasta dish for everyone (including me).

{Recipe after the jump.}

Creating a pasta dish at home is great way to use a variety of vegetables to make something quick and easy for dinner.  One key to creating a good pasta dish is to respect the pasta though.  Too often in years past, pasta was the secondary character on the plate to the star of sauce.  But really, the pasta should at least get equal billing.  The pasta you choose should meld in harmony with the ingredients accompanying it.

For a dish such as this, with quite a few chunky, toothsome vegetables, a hearty pasta such as penne will really stand up against the other ingredients and have a strong voice.  The tomato sauce and herbs will just coat the pasta and give it some zing.  Sausage can be used in this dish to give it an additional depth of flavor, but it certainly isn’t necessary.  The pasta has enough textural, visual, and flavor packed interest on its own.  Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this dish as much as I have.  — Adam Gregory

Late Summer Pasta with Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Eggplant

Servings: 6

Cooking time: around 1 Hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb box of Penne Pasta
  • 3 cloves + 5 cloves of CSA Garlic
  • 1 ½ Onion, diced
  • 2 – 14.5oz cans diced Roasted Tomato
  • 2 tbs Tomato Paste
  • 1 CSA bunch Basil
  • 2 CSA Japanese Eggplants (or equivalent amount of other Eggplants)
  • 1 CSA Zucchini
  • 1 CSA Heirloom Tomato, diced
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt + Pepper to taste

Directions:

1)    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In the meantime, wash your vegetables.

2)    Peel the Japanese eggplants and slice them into ¼” – ½” rounds (or pieces that are around the same size as your zucchini slices).  Do the same with the unpeeled zucchini.  Try to slice the vegetables as evenly as possible so that they cook evenly.  Place in a bowl along with 5 cloves of unpeeled garlic and toss with with 2 tbs olive oil.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and place in the oven to roast for around 40 minutes.

3)    In the meantime, peel and mince three cloves of garlic.  In a medium pot over medium heat, saute ½ of a diced onion and the three cloves of garlic in 1 tbs olive oil for around 3-5 minutes, or until soft but not browned.  Add 2 tbs of tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.  Add two 14.5 oz cans of preferably diced roasted tomatoes.  If you cannot get the roasted tomatoes, two cans of plain diced tomatoes are fine.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

4)    After the tomatoes have simmered, transfer to a food processor, along with ½ of a bunch of roughly torn basil leaves and puree until smooth.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.  Set aside and reserve.

5)    Place a medium pot of water over high heat.  Lightly salt the water and bring to a boil.

6)    If you plan on using Italian sausage for this recipe, remove the sausage for their casing now.  In a large pot over medium high heat, brown the Italian sausage in 1 tbs of olive oil, breaking up the larger chunks into smaller pieces.  If you don’t want to include meat in this recipe, you may leave the Italian sausage out of this dish and skip to the next step.  The flavor will be fine without it.

7)    Add 1 diced onion and continue cooking over medium heat until the onions are soft.

8)    Meanwhile, add 1 lb of penne pasta (or pasta of your choice) to the boiling water and cook based on package directions.

9)    Remove your roasted vegetables from the oven.  The eggplant  and zucchini should be soft and lightly browned.  Remove the roasted garlic from its skin, and mince.  Add the roasted garlic to the sausage and onion mixture.  Cook for another two minutes.

10)    Add the tomato sauce to the sauteed onions, garlic, and (possibly) sausage mixture.  Simmer for an additional 5-8 minutes.

11)    Tear ½ of the remaining basil into small pieces and add to the tomato sauce.  Let the basil simmer with the sauce for 2 minutes.

12)    If you haven’t already done so, check your pasta for tenderness.  It should be tender but still have some texture to it.  What you don’t want is limp, soft, overcooked pasta.  If the pasta seems a little underdone, take it out.  It will actually finish cooking during the time it takes you to complete the rest of the dish.

13)    When ready, drain the pasta.  Once the sauce is ready, add the drained pasta, roasted zucchini and roasted eggplant, and diced heirloom tomato to the sauce.  Cook for an additional minute while stirring to combine.  Check for seasoning and remove from heat.

14)    To serve, portion the pasta into large bowls, tear the remaining basil over the pasta, and drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy!

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