Why does it always take me so long to get back into the swing of life? Every single time I’ve had the slightest disruption in my regularly scheduled boring life it’s a struggle to get back to business. Which is why I may have slacked a wee-bit with posting. It was all worth it to get to hang with my gurlz in Virginia.
Anytime I take a trip I have to take a few days to make a full recovery. What happened to the days that I was able to stay up all night and go to work the next day? Oh yeah! They died with my twenties, along with my Uncle Cracker CD and Palm Pilot. If you don’t remember or know what a Palm is don’t tell me, it will hurt my feeling and make me feel old. And, that would not be nice.
In an effort to kickstart some cooking idea juices, I made a visit to the Dallas Farmers Market. Not normally what you would think to do when it’s 40 degrees out, but I needed some inspiration. I quickly ran from stand to stand, checking out who had what. I grabbed some Brussels sprouts, oranges, pears, asparagus and kale. Then I came upon some beautiful long Asian eggplants. It’s been a long time since I did a dish with eggplants. I immediately thought to do an eggplant parmesan inspired pasta. See! Visiting the farmer’s market in 40 degree weather can be a good thing.
I don’t normally make gluten free recipes. In fact, my husband like to say he likes his food with “extra gluten”. He thinks this is hilarious and super clever. I plead the 5th. But, I have been on a cleanse for the last week and have been eating gluten free, which means so is the husband. This is not a permanent thing, because Puerto Ricans like their bread!
The idea here was to make pasta with all the elements of eggplant parmesan. I wanted something healthy, but still hearty and satisfying. I am super please with out it turned out! I love the thick rich sauce, crispy bread crumbs and the eggplant is deliciously tender. When roasted just right the eggplant morsels burst with super eggplant flavor. NOM!!! Toss in some bright basil and salty parmesan and you got a slam-dunk! If you’re like OB and want yours with extra gluten, just swap out pasta and bread.
Adapted from Mario Batali
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Add bread slices to a food processor. Pulse until bread is corse crumbs. Toss lightly with olive oil, spread on sheet pan and toast in oven for 3 - 4 minutes or until crumbs are dry. Set aside to cool.
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and a light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and sauté for another 5 minutes. The carrot should be soft and browning. Add crushed tomato and balsamic vinegar, bring to a slow boil, stirring often. Lower to a simmer for 30 minutes until it is thick. Season with salt.
Bring a 4 quarts of salted water to a boil, lower to a simmer and cover until ready to use.
Line a two sheet pans with paper towels. Toss eggplant with salt and spread on sheet pans. Let sit for 20 minutes to extract excess water. Transfer eggplant to a bowl and lightly toss with olive oil. Wipe sheet pans dry and divide eggplant between both sheetpans.
Bake the eggplant at 450 degrees until eggplant begins turning deep brown, about 12-15 minutes.
While eggplant is roasting boil quinoa pasta according to package directions. Toss pasta with 1 cup of sauce, eggplant and basil. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano, shredded mozzarella and toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately.
The remaining sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.