Phew! that was a lot of words for a title. This pasta dish is so versatile - you can toss in any veggie that you fancy and happen to have on hand. It's a hassle free and simple recipe that literally takes minutes to prepare and tastes so good.
I've used what was fresh and easily available at the market on that day. Originally, I planned to make a sauce with these gorgeous green tomatoes that I found. But chickened out at the last moment fearing my toddler would find the green tomatoes too tart. Probably next time around......:)
Nevertheless the dish was simply delicious with each ingredient shining through boldly. Loosely based on a pasta dish - Evelyn's Everything Pasta, that I loved and always got at Cheesecake Factory. I know that CF is not gourmet, but I think the food is pretty decent and they have a sizable number of options for vegetarians. Works for me.
The original dish had penne as the pasta, broccoli, eggplants, red and yellow peppers, olives, flat leaf parsley,pine nuts and Parmesan. Feel free to experiment with what ingredients you have on hand. Multitask - cook the pasta while the vegetables are being sauteed or roasted to save on time for a quick week night meal!
Difficulty level - Very easy
Cooking time - 30 mins
Serves - Two greedy people
1 pound of spaghetti (Use any pasta that you like)
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
1 medium sized eggplant/aubergine cut into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp of good olive oil
2 tbsps walnuts ( Use pine nuts if you can find them )
1/2 tsp red chilly flakes
1/2 tsp of dried oregano or dried mixed herbs
10 -12 fresh basil leaves roughly torn apart
4 - 5 bocconcini or mozzarella cut into cubes
2 tsp Parmesan cheese grated
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted and rapidly boiling water for 10 -12 minutes, until al dente. Drain and keep aside. Reserve some of the pasta water. You can get this going on the side while you work on veggies.
Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy skillet or pan and place the eggplant slices in a single layer without overcrowding them. You want them to get brown and crispy on the edges. Do it in batches if you have to, but do not toss all of them in. Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Remove and keep aside.
Alternately you can bake/roast the eggplant slices in 425 F oven for . Just brush the slices with olive oil and bake until lightly browned. You could also roast the red and yellow peppers whole. Once the peppers are charred on the outside, remove and place inside a paper bag and allow them to steam. This allows the skin to peel off easily. When cool enough to touch , remove the skin and slice the flesh into strips.
Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan. Add the garlic and saute till an aroma is given off. Do this on a low flame, you don't want to brown or burn the garlic but just infuse the oil with all of its flavor. Next add the nuts and heat them till they get crunchy. Add the chilly flakes and dried herbs, the red and yellow peppers and saute till the peppers are tender-crisp. Add the roasted eggplant slices.
Finally add the torn basil leaves and mix gently.
Add the pasta and combine with all of the veggies making sure that the oil coats all the strands and the seasoning is distributed evenly.
If you find that the pasta is too dry you can add a tiny amount of the reserved pasta water to moisten it. Just before serving toss in the cubed mozzarella or bocconcini. Grate Parmesan over the pasta and garnish with more fresh basil leaves. Serve hot with crusty garlic bread on the side.