With the sudden onslaught of cooler temperatures, I have had the strong desire to stand over my stove all day in order to make slow cooked tomato sauce or braised meats that emerge from the pot so tender that the slightest prod of a fork causes the chunks of meat to fall apart. Most evenings I come home with barely enough time to make it to the gym, so unfortunately hour long cooking extravaganzas are regaled to the weekend. This doesn’t stop me from constantly craving comfort foods. When those moments arise, this is the pasta I reach for. It allows me to use many of the vegetables still in abundance at the farmers market to create the kind of warm and cozy food people love. The roasted vegetables give the pasta a sweet and smoky taste while the fontina gives it the perfect amount of cheesy goodness (because everyone loves cheesy goodness). In all honesty, this doesn’t even need to be served with anything on the side which is what makes it a perfect weeknight meal (that and the fact that the leftovers make a wonderful lunch the next day).
Roasted Vegetable Pasta with Fontina and Basil
Feel free to change the recipe and use zucchini instead of eggplant, or more tomatoes and no peppers. This is the kind of dish where it’s impossible to go wrong, every vegetable works amazingly well.
1 large eggplant, diced into ½ inch cubes
8 plum tomatoes, quartered
3 large roasted pepper (jarred is fine), diced
4 large garlic cloves, skins on
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons pepper, plus more to taste
½ - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups rigatoni or other pasta of your choice (I used fuselli bucatini)
1/3 pound fontina
¼ cup thinly sliced basil
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, tomatoes and garlic, toss the vegetables with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Place vegetables on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast the vegetables for about 25 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and the eggplant is lightly browned.
While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water to boil. When the water comes to boil, salt it and pour in the pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente and then drain. Set aside.
When the vegetables are done, place them in the pot that you cooked the pasta in (make sure you squeeze the garlic out of the peel, it will be soft!), turn the heat to low and add the pasta and the roasted peppers to the pot. Stir so the tomatoes get broken up and almost create a sauce. Add the fontina and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Serve with sprinkled basil.