Eggplant and Spinach Pasta with Goat Cheese

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A rainy Tuesday called for a hearty and comforting pasta dinner…  I always encourage the women I counsel to eat the foods they love – including pasta – but to shift them into the right proportions, ideally making every meal plant-based.  Because this recipe is based in roasted eggplant and spinach, it contains less than half as much dried pasta as most pasta dishes but feels and tastes like an indulgent treat.  Any green leafy vegetable can be substituted for the spinach, but the eggplant is a must, providing that spongey texture to soak up all the flavors. A dollop of goat cheese, added towards the end of cooking, creates a tangy, creamy sauce.

Lately, we’ve been loving the Brooklyn-based Sfoglini dried pastas for their fun shapes and interesting whole grain combinations and have been making all kinds of yummy meals with them…  For this recipe, I used a rye pasta, which provided rich color and a nutty flavor to the dish.

**This meal makes for great leftovers, so try to save some for lunch!

  • 2-3 large eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ~8 ounces dried pasta (I used Sfoglini rye trumpets)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • ~8 cups spinach, roughly chopped, tough stems removed
  • ¼ – ½ cup chevre

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Spread olive oil to cover a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle salt on the eggplant flesh before placing, flesh-side down, on the prepared baking sheet.  Roast until the eggplant is tender and cooked through, about 30-40 minutes.  **Do this step a day ahead to save time in dinner prep.

Boil well-salted water in a large pot.  Meanwhile, heat 3-4 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic, and stir constantly, until it becomes soft and lightly golden.  Immediately add the spinach, and stir to combine.  Salt the spinach generously.  Chop the eggplant into bite-sized pieces, and add to the sauté pan, after the spinach has wilted.  Reduce heat to low.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente, according to package instructions.  Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.  Add the pasta to the sauté pan and stir to combine.  Dollop the goat cheese over the pasta, in pieces, and continue to stir, adding some of the pasta water if the dish is dry.  Season with salt and pepper to preference, and serve immediately.

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