I have a fancy pasta recipe for you today made with bow-tie pasta, caramelized eggplant, Roma tomatoes and pumpkin-arugula pesto.
I broke all the rules with my pesto sauce. It’s everything except traditional with it’s toasty Pumpkins seeds and baby ‘rocket’ leaves. The Farfalle pasta does a stellar job of attracting the pesto. You can see it sticking to even the smallest nooks and crannies. The caramelized eggplant takes a bit of patience but is well worth it. Eggplant has a high water content and just like a sponge it soaks up the oil it’s cooked in. You need to tend to it like a newborn baby. Even if you’re not a fan of eggplant I bid you to give this a try. It alters the taste immensely taking on a deep, smoky flavor. The mushy texture that it usually has disappears.
Caramelized Eggplant Pasta and Arugula Pesto
1 eggplant, about 1-11/2 pounds, peeled, sliced into ½ inch slices and cut into 2-inch pieces
Olive oil, for frying
8 oz Farfalle pasta
1 cup Roma tomatoes, seeds taken out, diced
Pumpkin-Arugula Pesto(recipe to follow)
Romano or Parmesan, freshly grated, for serving
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and saute until browned. It will closely resemble caramelized onions when ready. Add a little bit of oil (a teaspoon or so) at a time as needed. The eggplant will soak up a lot of it. If you add to much it will take longer to caramelize. As the eggplant cooks you will need to turn the pan down a bit to prevent burning.
Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente while the eggplant is cooking. Drain and add the pasta right back to the pan it was cooked in. The little bit of water left on the pasta will steam off from the heat in the pan. Add enough of the pesto to just coat the pasta.
When the eggplant is a dark brown color it is ready. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the pasta with the eggplant and tomatoes, adding in pesto until everything is well coated. Serve hot or chilled with fresh shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan.
½ cup Pumpkin(Pepita) Seeds, raw and unsalted
1 clove garlic
2 cups baby Arugula leaves
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
Toast the Pumpkin Seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until they take on a light golden brown, about ten minutes mixing every minute or two. They will pop and may puff up. Let cool.
Add them to your food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Pulse until smooth. Add Parmesan and pulse until smooth again. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.