Oldie but a Goodie…..

I recently revisited a delicious vegetarian pasta dish for a cooking lesson I taught to one of my favorite vegetarian couples this past weekend.  My everyday schedule gets so hectic with cooking for clients, catering, teaching, writing and testing recipes that sometimes I forget about my simple recipes that are tried and true and delicious!
The following recipe is a nice simple dish, with minimal ingredients and quick cooking time.  It is an all vegetarian dish but would easily take to some grilled shrimp, some shredded chicken or even some cubed pork tenderloin.  It is also a fantastic summer dish, made even better by the addition of some farmer’s market arugula or spinach, even some microgreens. Yum!
The recipe is one of many pasta recipes that is void of tomato sauce.  Most people think of red sauce over spaghetti noodles when they think of pasta, but there are so many delicious ways to prepare pasta (whole wheat or multi-grain of course)!  This recipe uses a light sauce of caramelized onions, pasta cooking liquid, lemon juice and goat cheese to coat the noodles.  I try to use a local herbed goat cheese whenever possible since it’s such a big flavoring component plus it melts better as the small batch goat cheeses tend to be creamier.  So with that said, whip up a batch of this delicious pasta next time you need a quick dinner and I guarantee you won’t miss the tomato sauce at all!
Pasta with Charred Eggplant, Caramelized Shallots, Lemon and Goat Cheese
Serves 3-4
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise and then cut into 1×3 strips
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ lb. fusilli or penne
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 4 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced thinly
  • ¼ t. crushed red pepper
  • 2 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled (avoid the pre-crumbled, it’s not as creamy)
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • zest from ½ lemon
  • 2 T. toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 T. fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano
    1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, put the eggplant on the paper, drizzle the oil over, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Put in oven and roast for 30-40 minutes until deeply browned.
    2. Meanwhile, heat a pot of water and cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.  While the pasta is cooking put the sliced shallots and the 1 T. unsalted butter in small fry pan.  Set over low and cook about 20-30 minutes (while the eggplant is roasting).
    3. Once the eggplant is done, get out medium size saucepan.  Warm pan over medium heat 1-2 minutes, add the caramelized shallots, sliced garlic and crushed red pepper and warm about 1 minute.  Then add the pasta, eggplant and goat cheese and toss until goat cheese melts and coats the pasta noodles.  Finally, squeeze the lemon over the pasta, sprinkle the zest over and mix to combine.  Spoon some pasta into individual bowls and top with the toasted almonds and parmigiano-reggiano.