- 4 cups gluten-free penne (again, I like truRoots)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 4 vine ripe tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
- 3 shallots, peeled and cut into thirds
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3–4 cloves garlic, whole and left in the skin
- 1/3 cup raw pine nuts, finely chopped in the food processor
- 8 large fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (more or less for heat to your taste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided, plus more for the pasta water
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups loosely packed arugula (or any other greens)
Preheat the oven to 400. Prepare the eggplant, tomatoes, shallots, carrot and garlic for roasting. For the eggplant, cut the ends off, and peel about 1/2 the skin away. I leave half the skin for nutrients and texture, then cut into 1 inch cubes. The idea is for all of the veggies about the same size so they roast evenly, discard any small pieces as they will burn before the rest of the veggies are roasted. I leave the garlic in its skin to roast so it doesn’t burn, then peel before adding it to the food processor. Spread the veggies on a baking sheet, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Roast the veggies 30-40 minutes until lightly golden brown.
While the veggies are roasting, pulse the pine nuts in your food processor until finely chopped, about 6 long pulses and reserve. It should be similar to the texture of parmesan.
When the veggies have about 15 minutes left, bring a large pasta pot of purified water to a boil. Once boiling, add about a tablespoon or so of salt to the water to flavor the pasta (most if it says in the water) and cook the pasta to al dente. In most cases, read the package instructions and cook it 1-2 minutes less than the cooking time, I cook mine exactly 6 minutes. Before you drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking liquid to thin out your sauce if needed. (Tip: You can cook the pasta while you finish the sauce, or wait until after if you don’t want to manage more than one process at a time.)
To finish the sauce, carefully add the roasted veggies to your food processor, remembering to peel the skins off the garlic first. Again, be careful as it will be hot. Along with the roasted veggies, add 5 fresh basil leaves, the oregano, pinch of crusted red, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste) to the food processor, then pulse a few times and process about 30 seconds until well blended and thick. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if needed.
In a large bowl (or back into the pasta pot), add the drained pasta, ground pine nuts, then sauce. Add the sauce last so you can adjust the amount if needed. Once combined, use a small amount of the starchy pasta water if the sauce needs to be thinned out, I usually don’t have to in this dish but it will depend on the type of pasta you use and how much water was in your veggies. Add 1 tablespoon at a time if needed until the desired texture is achieved.
While hot, fold in 2 cups (that’s about two large handfuls) of fresh arugula. The heat of the dish will wilt the greens. Garnish with your last few basil leaves (finely chop or chiffonade) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Best served hot, but it’s also delicious room temp or cold.
- If the tomatoes don’t look great at your store that day, you can substitute one 28-ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, just add them straight to the food processor with the roasted veggies (no need to roast them).
- Fresh basil really makes a huge difference so use it if you can. If you can’t find any, 1 teaspoon dry into the sauce will work.
- I love the taste of arugula in this dish, but again, if you can’t find any, any fresh dark-leafy greens will work spinach, kale or collards would be great, just give them about a one inch chop.