Grilled Vegetable and Herb Pasta
- Yield: 6 servings
- 2 eggplants (about 2 pounds total) stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 red onions or Walla Walla sweet onions, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded and quartered
- 1/2cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2cup chopped fresh mint
- 4cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1/2cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4cup balsamic vinegar
- 1pound dry farfalle or rotini pasta
- sprig fresh basil, mint and/or parsley for garnish
- Lay the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and liberally sprinkle both sides with salt; let sit for 15 to 20 minutes (this draws out excess moisture along with any bitterness the eggplant may have). Wipe off the salt and pat dry.
- Preheat an outdoor grill (to high if using a gas grill) and oil the grill grate, or preheat the broiler. Grill or broil the eggplant and onion slices until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop them.
- Grill or broil the bell pepper quarters, skin side towards the heat, until the skin becomes charred. Put the peppers in a plastic bag for 10 minutes. Take them from the bag and peel off and discard the skin. Coarsely chop the peppers.
- Combine the eggplant, onion, bell pepper, basil, mint, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large bowl and toss to mix.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over the vegetables. Toss to coat them well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand at least 1 hour.
- Just before serving, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well and toss the pasta with the grilled vegetable and herb mixture.
- Spoon onto individual plates and garnish each serving with a small herb sprig.
NOTE: You can add grilled portobello mushrooms to the vegetable mixture for a heartier version of the recipe, which would also make a great vegetarian main course.
Recipe reprinted with permission from The Junior League of Seattle, Celebrate the Rain, Cooking with the Fresh & Abundant Flavors of the Pacific Northwest (The Junior League of Seattle, 2004)