It’s the beginning of Spring and what hopes to be the last big snowstorm blowing through the Northeast. I’m not sure how anyone else feels, but I am pretty much over it. Winter isn’t my favorite time of year, but I can get on board. Snow in March? Not so much. Yesterday was a off day thankfully so I hunkered down on the couch with the dog and watched a little television, venturing out only a couple of times. I finally got motivated when my husband texted to say he was on his way home.
One thing that does happen in this house, very similar to many other homes with professional chefs, is the spouse suffers through nights of take-out or sadly composed dinners on the fly. It’s the “cobbler’s family” make no mistake. When I do cook it’s usually on a night that I’m not working or catering. So I feel like I need to “step it up” for him. Of course I can do that with just a handful of ingredients, and so can you. It’s all about the flavor and presentation that gives the “wow” factor, even if it takes just minutes to prepare.
This dish has just five ingredients: eggplant, tomatoes, pasta, arugula and chevre. I have quantities listed in the recipe for the vegetables, but don’t fret about it. If you are a little over or under it’s not a problem. I also decided to oven roast the eggplant and tomatoes, but they can easily be sautéed in a pan. Honestly I just didn’t want to splatter up the stovetop. (Remember, it was my day off!) Roasting in the oven makes this really easy. While they are cooking you make the pasta.
Once the pasta is done drain all but about ¼ cup of the liquid. Use that the melt the chevre over the pasta.
Add the tomato-eggplant mix along with all the juices to the pasta bowl. I tossed in a good pinch of red chili flakes for a little kick, but that’s optional. Then at the end add in some fresh arugula. Spinach would be just fine too, but arugula is what I had on hand.
Toss and serve.
For wine I chose Vermentino. It’s one of my favorite wine grapes. This particular producer is relatively inexpensive and a perfect everyday wine. It’s a little flinty with notes of lemon, fruit and herbs. Quite delicious and I think perfect contrast for the chèvre in this dish.
All-in-all this dinner took me just a little over 30 minutes, start to finish, probably faster than ordering takeout. Take a look in your ‘fridge for something to roast, a little cheese and a leafy green. You can easily add a protein to this dish too. While the vegetables roast place a couple of seasoned chicken breasts on another baking sheet and cook them at the same time. Slice and serve with the pasta.
Eggplant, Tomato and Chèvre Pasta
Makes 2 hearty portions or 3-4 small side portions
1 eggplant, about 14-16 oz., peeled and cubed 1/2″
8 oz. cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
6 oz. pasta, about 2 cups, your favorite shape
2-3 oz. of chèvre, more if you like it really cheesy
Red chili flakes, optional
2 big handfuls of arugula
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Set a pot of water on to boil. For every 4 cups of water add a couple of teaspoons of kosher salt. Bland pasta is not good eats.
- Add the cubed eggplant and tomatoes to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep them separated on the baking sheet in case your oven cooks one faster than the other. Set the timer for 10 minutes and roast. Remove and toss each side. Place back in the oven and roast for another 5-10 minutes. The eggplant should be a little brown and the tomatoes nicely blistered.
- While the vegetables are roasting cook the pasta. When it’s done drain and place in a large mixing bowl, reserving a quarter cup of the cooking liquid. Toss in the chèvre and use a little bit the the water to melt the cheese. Toss well to coat the pasta.
- When the vegetables are done toss gently on the baking sheet and add a pinch or two of chili flakes. Scrape it all into the pasta bowl and gently mix.
- Add a couple of handfuls of arugula and fold gently. Taste for seasoning and serve warm