When I can’t be bothered cooking, I always suggest we have tomato pasta. More often than not everyone will say OK, but on the occasion when the response is: do we have to?, my next suggestion is usually roast vegetable pasta. And no one ever says no. This is as simple as frying vegetables, cooking some long pasta, usually fettuccine, (but in this instance pappardelle) and then mixing the two together. Quick, easy and good for you.
I’ve made this dish a couple of ways. The first is less labour intensive but not as good. Cube the eggplant, zucchini and capsicum, and throw all the vegetables into a baking paper lined roasting tin. Add a couple of splashes of olive oil, some salt and pepper, torn basil leaves and the sliced garlic, and roast at 180 degrees celsius for 30 – 40 or until the vegetables are well cooked and toasted brown on the edges. When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and stir in the sliced olives and crumbled feta. Mix through the pasta, with a little cooking water and drizzle with extra olive oil. This gets the job done but it lacks the flavour of frying each vegetable on its own.
The thing is, eggplant goes really creamy and takes on a more smoky flavour when fried, as does the zucchini. As for the capsicum, I usually roast it over the gas flame until it’s blackened and then peel it when it’s cooled. Putting it in the oven, cut-side down, works really well too and is easier. You can forget it until the skin is wrinkly and blackened (it will never be as burnt looking as roasting it on a flame). Although placing it over a flame is more labour intensive because you have to keep an eye on it and turn it every 5 minutes, the extra flavour you get from all that effort is worth it.
This is not a saucy pasta dish. Putting a lid over the tomatoes when they are cooking creates some liquid, but adding a little cooking water from the pasta and drizzling over extra virgin olive oil, gives it the moistness it needs. Frying all the vegetables means it will be a little more oily than roasting the vegetables in the oven, but don’t despair, when you mix it all together it just works. And the best thing is the feta melts just a little, giving the pasta a touch of creaminess. We love it. Hope you do too. Enjoy!
- olive oil
- 1 small or ½ a large eggplant, cut into 1.5 cm slices
- 1 red capsicum, halved lengthways
- 1 zucchini, cut into 1cm thick slices and cut on the diagonal
- 1 red onion, cut into chunks
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 200 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
- 125 grams feta, crumbled
- 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- salt and pepper
- 250 grams pasta, fettuccine or pappardelle
- extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
- handful of basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the capsicum cut side down on the tray. Lightly coat with olive oil and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place cooked halves in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to cool before removing the burnt skin.
- In a large frying pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and fry the eggplant rounds until brown on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Repeat the process with the zucchini, adding a little olive oil if needed. Remove and set aside with the eggplant.
- (Once you've cooked the eggplant and zucchini, put a large pot of water on to cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking continue making the sauce.)
- Using the same frying pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the red onion and garlic until softened.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper, and stir. Cover the pan and gently simmer until the tomatoes are cooked.
- Slice the eggplant and zucchini, and add to the tomato mixture together with the sliced olives. If the pasta isn't cooked by this stage, turn the heat off under the tomato mixture so that it doesn't dry out.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water to add to the vegetable mixture.
- Return the pasta to the pot, add the vegetable mixture and stir through. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil, add the crumbled feta and torn basil leaves, and stir to combine.