Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Penne with Walnut Pesto and Eggplant

From "The Herbal Kitchen", serves 4
-2 small or 1 large eggplant
-2 T. olive oil
-1 tsp. salt

2 cups lightly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly rated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3/4 pound penne pasta
1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts to finish

Preheat oven to 425. Cut the unpeeled eggplant into 3/4 inch cubes. Spread tehm out on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Toss with your hands to distrubte the oil and salt and shake the cubes out into a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are brown on the edges and are very soft.

While the eggplant is roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pesto by pulsing the basil, walnuts, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil. Scrape down teh bow and add the cheese, pulse again.

Boil the pasta , scoop out 1/2 cup of cooking water into a cup and drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the warm pot, top with pesto, pour in the water and stir until evenly sauced. Scrape the eggplant cubes into the pot and stir gently. Scoop the pasta into warm serving bowls, top with walnuts and serve right away.

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