I am not going to lie; this is probably one of the best pastas that I have ever made. It is incredibly easy and highlights the beautiful produce which is peaking on the east coast right now. The only catch is that it takes time....approximately 4 hours of your precious end of summer time. Don't despair. I have a trick to make this seamless, simple, clean, and delicious dish yours without the elongated wait.
Slow roasted tomatoes are the key to this robustly flavorful pasta, but they earned their name for a good reason. Slow roasting produces sweet and caramelized results that typically take 3 to 4 hours of slow and low oven time. Slow roasted tomatoes are perfect to pop in the oven on a lazy Sunday and to keep on hand for a quick and flavorful weeknight meal. When in season, add slow roasted tomatoes to your "to-make" list while meal prepping for the week ahead. If not being used for this pasta, the tomatoes make an incredible addition to anything from grains to soups to salads to fish or chicken and are wonderful to have on hand. Simply store in an airtight jar with some of the cooking oil/juice and use within 5 days.
Tomatoes are one of the few fruits which are more nutritionally dense cooked than raw. Tomatoes contain a functional component called lycopene. Lycopene is a phytochemical, which is a substance in the plant that acts as a natural defense and helps to reduce the risk of diseases. This phytochemical preserves bone health and reduces the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. Lycopene is more readily available when cooked and when eaten with a fat such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, or cheese. Tomato-based sauces containing a fat, e.g. olive oil, are an excellent way to ensure your optimization of lycopene.
Not only does this late summer pasta provide the benefits of lycopene, it also dishes up anthocyanins from the eggplant. Anthocyanins are responsible for the vegetable's purple hue. They reduce risk of cancer, aid with memory, promote urinary track health, and provide anti-aging benefits. Eggplants are also an antioxidant and contain fiber and potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral which helps with fluid balance and the maintenance of blood pressure as well as muscle functionality.
slow roasted tomato + eggplant pasta
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes or 5-6 large tomatoes or 10 roma tomatoes
- 6 tbsps olive oil
- 2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- salt + pepper
- 5 anchovy fillets (omit for vegan version)
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 lb whole grain or gluten-free pasta (i love this brand)
- 1/2 cup basil
- parmesan cheese or hemp seeds
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half, drizzle with one to two tablespoons olive oil, and toss with a pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange on a parchment paper-lined sheet tray and roast for 3-4 hours. Smaller tomatoes take approximately 2 hours, larger closer to 4 hours. Store for later use or set aside. *When short on time, I have increased the cooking temperature to 300 degrees which shortens the cooking by an hour or so, depending on how roasted you prefer you tomatoes and how large in size they may be.
- Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. On a parchment paper-lined sheet tray, toss cubed eggplant with 4 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing half way through cooking until eggplant is caramelized. Set aside.
- Cook pasta until just al dente. Drain reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
- In a large pot over medium heat, warm one tablespoon olive oil. Add anchovies, garlic, and chili flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes until the anchovies melt apart. Toss in tomatoes and eggplant and cook for another minute. Add 1/4 cup pasta water and pasta, stir until well combined and the flavors are melded together. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with torn basil, parm, or hemp seeds.