Summer’s hottest days are here….and so is summer eggplant! I can’t resist the dark purple beauties when I see them at the market. Roasting eggplant until it is gooey and caramelized is my favorite way to prepare it. Throw some crisp, red bell pepper in the mix and some roasted cherry tomatoes and you’ve got a hearty eggplant linguine pasta dish.
I didn’t learn to love the wonderous eggplant until adulthood. It is one of those veggies that can easily put you off because it is often cooked poorly. Too dry, or bitter, or soaked in too much oil. Sometimes I still struggle to get eggplant just right, but the easiest way – and probably the tastiest way – is roasting.
To Salt Or Not
If you are making eggplant parmesan or other recipes where the eggplant will be pan sauteed, you might take the time to salt it and let it sit to draw out some of the water. This reduces bitterness and is a worthwhile step if you don’t want soggy eggplant. Good idea if you plan to grill it. This keeps the slices firm enough that they don’t just steam and fall through the grill grates.
When you roast it for this eggplant linguine, you don’t want to lose the moisture so no salt-and-wait needed!
What I love about roasting eggplant is the 2-minute prep. Cut off the stem, cut into thick slices, cut into cubes. Done.
If you’ve never liked eggplant, I challenge you to try it after a hot oven and olive oil have worked their magic.
Toss your cubes into a baking dish. Drizzle a generous amount of quality extra virgin olive oil but don’t drown them. Quickly toss well to coat before the oil absorbs. Season generously with salt and pepper. I like to throw a few pinches of crushed red pepper on too.
Roast at 425 degrees uncovered for about 30 minutes. Give the baking dish a little shimmy towards the end but don’t stir otherwise or you won’t get the magic of the caramelization.
Tip: Have a good piece of french bread or a baguette on hand. Use it to sop up the last bits of eggplant and oil from the baking dish after you remove the eggplant. Trust me.
Eggplant Linguine’s Best Friend
If I have a fresh red bell pepper, I cut that into thick slices and throw it in as well on a separate side of the dish. Eggplant and red bell pepper are best friends. This combo alone makes a great topping for fresh pasta (drizzle pasta with olive oil), but I like to pair it with roasted cherry tomatoes which gives you a little sauce to keep everything moist.
Finishing with creamy crumbled goat cheese is a must for this dish as is fresh basil. Be generous with both on your eggplant linguine.
Fresh Refrigerated Pasta
If you Follow Frittata, you already know I’m too intimidated (or lazy) to make my own fresh pasta. I used fresh refrigerated brands, usually Buitoni or Rana. You can obviously serve this over any pasta you have on hand, but to me fresh linguine pasta makes it feel more like a summer dish. You can usually find refrigerated fresh pasta near other refrigerated foods or sometimes in the produce section of the grocery store. If your grocery doesn’t carry these, click the Buitoni image to buy on Amazon.
- 1 small eggplant, cut into large cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper, optional
- 1/2 cup quality extra virgin olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, optional
- 1 lb fresh linguine
- 2 tbsp goat cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced
- Preheat oven to 425°. Place the eggplant cubes and sliced bell pepper in one baking dish (large enough that everything is in one layer). Drizzle generously with olive oil and immediately toss well to coat before all the oil absorbs in one place. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper if using. Place the cherry tomatoes in a separate baking dish. Add garlic cloves if using. Drizzle with the olive oil and shimmy the dish around to coat everything well. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover the tomato baking dish tightly with foil, leave eggplant uncovered. Roast for approximately 30 minutes until tomatoes are broken down and bubbly and eggplant is caramelized. Remove from oven.
- When there is about 7 minutes left on the roasting time, prepared 1 lb of fresh linguine (such as Butoni) as directed. Drain all but about 3 tbsps of cooking water.
- Divide the pasta between 4 bowls. Top each with a spoonful of roasted tomatoes and a little juice, eggplant and pepper. Crumble goat cheese on top, finish with sliced basil.
- Optional: Bring the empty eggplant baking dish to the table and serve with a crusty french bread, sourdough or baguette for sopping up every drop of the goodness.