Servings: 6 servings
1 (16-ounce) package bow tie pasta
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil), as needed
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon Sweet Mesquite Seasoning (see tips)
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 sprig oregano, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
2 Portobello mushrooms
1 large eggplant
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1-½ tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley , chopped
Prepping the Portobello mushrooms: Using the edge of a spoon, scrape and remove the gills of the Portobello mushrooms. Wipe the inside clean using a paper towel (see tips). Lightly coat the mushrooms with oil using a silicone brush. Place the whole mushrooms on a hot griddle pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan. Once the mushrooms are cool enough to handle, cut into long strips then cut the strips into large cubes. Place them in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Season with salt. Set aside.
Prepping the zucchini and eggplant:
Trim both the zucchini and eggplant. Cut them in half, lengthwise and then into ½-inch-thick slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect the excess moisture). Place the zucchini and eggplant slices on the rack. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using paper towels.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the same griddle pan. Add the eggplant first, cook for about 5 minutes, then add the zucchini. Cook over medium heat until nicely seared and softened (about 3-4 minutes on each side). Season with salt and pepper. Cut into pieces the same size as the Portobello mushrooms.
Cooking pasta: Bring about 8 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. Cook the pasta for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and continue cooking for an additional 5-8 minutes. Keep stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom. When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), reserve about ½ cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
In a large sauté pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add the onions. Cook for about 7-8 minutes until golden and caramelized.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, Sweet Mesquite Seasoning, red chili powder and 2 tablespoons cooked onions (reserve the rest for later). Mix well. Using 2 tablespoons, gather one portion of the beef mixture in one spoon. Scrape the loose mixture from the sides using the other spoon. Repeat between the 2 spoons until the mound is tightly packed. Form into meat balls. Set aside on a platter.
Add the beef and oregano to the same pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on all sides until there is a nicely browned crust. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter.
In the pan, add butter and garlic. Cook until fragrant. Add the bow tie pasta. Toss the pasta by shaking the pan for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter.
In the pan, add the chopped tomatoes and reserved onions. Toss well. Add the bow tie pasta, Portobello mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, Parmesan cheese and ½ cup of pasta water. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add a little more of the reserved pasta water. Finally, add the meat, then turn off the heat. Toss well. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. Add the remaining parsley. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Garnish with more parsley and sprinkle with black pepper.
Check out more pasta recipes.
Removing the gills of the mushrooms prevents the dish from turning dark once cooked. This step is only for the appearance of the dish and does not affect the flavors.
I used a store-bought sweet Mesquite seasoning from Costco. You could add any blend of seasonings such as paprika or more red chili powder.