What did you think I meant? This is a recipe. How many of you have looked at eggplants (aubergines, to you Europeans) in the supermarket and thought to yourselves; “Too much bother”…?
This dish is fast, easy and delicious and as long as I can find good fresh basil I’ll make it, even though it seems more of a summery dish. Serve it with your favorite pasta or over quinoa and for those of you that can’t bear to eat a meal that doesn’t include a big slab of animal protein, just omit the goat’s cheese and pasta (or not) as it works well as a side veg for roast chicken.
BTW, if you’re nervous at the thought of eating goat cheese, the very soft fresh variety such as Montrachet is mild and creamy and doesn’t taste like it came from a goat. I suppose you could substitute another cheese such as mozzarella but the best mozzarella comes from a buffalo, so which is worse? Anyway, Mozarella is too chewing-gummy for this recipe.
So, here it is with some helpful notes at the end:
PASTA with OVEN-ROASTED EGGPLANT, RED ONION, BASIL, PINE NUTS, GARLIC & GOAT CHEESE
One medium to large, unblemished eggplant, cut into approx 1 inch chunks
One medium to large red onion, peeled and cut into ½ inch wedges
2-4 cloves of fresh garlic (I use 4), peeled and roughly chopped
A good handful of fresh basil leaves, torn up. Set aside 6-8 leaves for the finish
2 tablespoons of best quality extra v olive oil
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 tablespoons of lightly toasted pine nuts (do this on the stove top in a dry skillet ahead of time and stay there until they’re done or you’ll be sorry. They’ll burn in an instant and they’re expensive)
4 oz soft fresh goat cheese at room temp, chopped up and put in a serving bowl
Whatever your favorite pasta is, enough for two
Crank the oven up to its highest setting. Line a shallow roasting pan with foil.
Place in the upper half of the preheated oven for 10 minutes, take it out and give everything a good toss around then back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Get your pasta started. I don’t need to tell you how to cook pasta – just follow the instructions on the packet.
After the second 10 minute stint in the oven, take the eggplant mix out and give it another good stir around. You’ll want everything to have nicely brown-tinged edges. If it’s not quite there yet, give it another 3 mins or so. I live at altitude so cooking times vary.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain quickly (never over-drain pasta) – tip it onto the chopped goat cheese in whatever you’re serving it in and give it a good toss.
There’s a lot of tossing with this recipe.
Shred the remaining basil leaves and add to the pasta with the roasted eggplant mix and toasted pine nuts – and that’s it. Toss, if you feel up to it. Add a drizzle of olive oil and more freshly ground black pepper at this point if you think it needs it. And some more goats cheese on top if you think you need it.
Oh… and you won’t see any toasted pine nuts in the final picture as I got distracted for 30 seconds while toasting them. They ended up being tossed in the trash; blackened and smoldering.
It tastes great without them.
Some helpful hints:
It can be served at room temp as a ‘pasta salad’ dish if you make it with penne or other short pasta shapes.
Another yummy quickie using soft mild goat cheese is to stuff a Medjool date with it; just slit the date down one side, push out the pit and pack it with about a teaspoon of goat cheese. Tastes like dessert!
Costco sells excellent soft goat cheese at a great price; likewise pine nuts.
Soft goat cheese keeps very well in the fridge with a caveat – the longer you keep it, the more likely you’ll think there’s a herd of goats living in your kitchen; personally, I like it once it gets a bit ‘high’ but not in the above recipe.
Finally, my spell-check function wanted to change the word ‘aubergine’ to ‘aborigine’. That doesn’t seem quite right to me.