Rigatoni Pasta with Eggplant and Green Peas

Rigatoni Pasta with Eggplant and Green Peas Recipe

The weekend was so nice; we spent the days lounging in our backyard. I prepared effortless meals to maximize my time outside with the family, but as always, made sure not to skimp on the flavor.

Here's the pasta dish I made yesterday evening. I cooked rigatoni pasta and flavored it with an earthy and chunky eggplant sauce. As a last touch, I added frozen green peas. You could add other vegetables such as chickpeas or edamame beans if you prefer, especially if you want to add a little protein to the dish.

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

1 eggplant
1 pound rigatoni pasta, cooked (save some of the water when draining the pasta)
1½ tablespoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried mint
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup olive oil, as needed
½ teaspoon Mesquite seasoning
3 tablespoons cashew nuts, freshly ground
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shaved
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped


Directions

Note for the rigatoni pasta: Cook according to package instructions. When the pasta is cooked (floats to the surface but is still in shape and firm), reserve about ½ cup to 1½ cups of pasta water and drain the pasta (do NOT rinse) into a large colander. Season with a little salt.

Cooking the eggplant: Trim and slice the eggplant lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Brush a griddle pan with oil. Add the eggplant slices and cook on both sides until grill marks are visible.  Coarsely chop.

For the sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add thinly sliced onions. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. Add the eggplant, 1 clove garlic, Mesquite seasoning, dried mint and tomato paste. Stir until barely combined. Transfer to a food processor. Add the remaining olive oil, cashews, Parmesan cheese and reserved pasta water (¼ cup at a time, up to 1 cup) for a smooth flow. Season with sea salt and pepper. If prepared in advance, store in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.

Assembly time:
In a large non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the remaining garlic and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the rigatoni pasta and toss for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggplant sauce and complete with about ½ cup warm pasta water. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add a little more pasta water. Add the green peas and turn off the heat. Garnish with the fresh herbs and mix until the pasta is well coated. Add more salt if necessary.

Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


Tips

If you're a pasta lover, check out my other pasta dishes.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on July 8, 2013.


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