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Roasted Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Pasta
24 firm fairy tale (tiny) eggplants, halved (OR 8-10 small, firm, round eggplants or Japanese eggplants, cut into 6-8 thin spears per eggplant)
¾ pound small/finger peppers and chili peppers (sweet and hot varieties combined), halved, seeded and cut into strips lengthwise
5-6 cloves garlic, crushed
2-2 ½ pounds cherry, plum or medium-sized tomatoes, halved or cut into wedges
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
3 tablespoons tomato vinegar or aged balsamic vinegar
EVOO non-aerosol cooking spray
1 pound casarecce or other short-cut pasta
Fancy, fruity EVOO, for drizzling
Ricotta salata for grating, to serve
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley and mint combined, to serve
Serves: 4 to 6
Preheat oven to 500°F, racks one above and one below center.
Heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta.
Arrange the eggplant and peppers on a foil- and parchment-lined baking sheet, season with salt. Place crushed garlic in the middle of another foil- and parchment-lined tray and arrange the tomatoes around the garlic along with thyme, vinegar, salt and pepper. Spray both trays with EVOO. Roast 17 to 20 minutes with tomatoes on top until charred and slumped, remove, move eggplant and peppers up to top rack and roast eggplant and peppers 2 to 3 min more.
After about 12 minutes, salt the pasta water and drop pasta and undercook by a minute. Reserve ½ cup cooking water before draining.
Transfer tomatoes to deep skillet and mash and add the roasted eggplant and peppers.
Drain pasta, toss pasta with sauce and the reserved water and a couple turns-of-the-pan of EVOO. Top with shredded ricotta salata, mint and parsley.