I know it's not pretty. But it's easy, and it's delicious, and sometimes, that's all you need.
Just in case you were thinking of going into diabetic shock after all the desserts, here's some real food. Yeah, I needed it too. Don't worry, though-- there's more sugar to come. And butter. Possibly brownies.
Despite the total lack of cream or butter, this recipe turned out to be creamy, filling, and satisfying. Better is that the prep work takes ten minutes. If delicious made it pretty, this one would be a supermodel.
Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree
Giada DeLaurentis, Food Network
Adjustments by smitten kitchen (because, in case you hadn't noticed, her website is probably the best cookbook I own.)
1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, whole
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Glug of balsamic or red wine vinegar or freshly-squeezed lemon juice (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish. Place in the oven on the rack below the vegetables. Roast until golden, about 4-8 minutes (check them every minute or two after 4 minutes--they go from golden to burnt fast). Remove from the oven and reserve.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid (I never used more than 1/2-3/4 cup, but your taste may differ).
Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor. Add the torn mint leaves and extra-virgin olive oil. Puree the vegetables.
Transfer the pureed vegetables to the bowl with the pasta and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta is as saucy as you like it, and add a glug of vinegar (optional). Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and serve.