Eggplant Orecchiette Pasta with Cauliflower

I used to hate eggplant. When I was abut 11, dad had a heart attack and was told no more red meat; so, mom decided it was eggplant everything. After about a month, I couldn’t even look at an eggplant anymore, and frankly neither could anyone else in the house. She finally gave in and started making some other stuff, but it was a very long time before I willingly ate eggplant again.

What changed my mind? Babaganoush. I had no idea what this was when it was served to me in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Detroit, but I was immediately in love. When I read the menu and found out it was roasted eggplant, I resolved to give eggplant a second chance. I am so glad I did, because today it’s one of my favorite foods.

I like this sauce served on orcchiette pasta (and now, I don’t have a picture–I forgot to charge my camera battery), but you could serve it over anything. It would go great with spaghetti squash noodles, or in the summer with vegetable ribbons. The inspiration is from the latest Vegetarian Times, but I tweaked a good bit and turned it into a stuffing instead of a filling (though it’d be awesome as a filling, too).

Eggplant Sauce

1 eggplant, washed and diced

12 oz. canned tomatoes, drained and juice reserved

1 onion, diced

1/4 c. kalamata or other quality olives, pitted and diced

1/3 c. sundried tomatoes

2 tsp. capers

2 tsp. nutritional yeast

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

2 tsp. chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tsp chopped fresh mint (optional–this will be great in the summer)

1/4 – 1/3 cup cream

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

Directions: Toss first 5 ingredients onto a baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees, stirring occasionally, until brown and tender. Remove from oven, and put all remaining ingredients, while hot, into food processor or blender. Add reserved tomato juice. Blend until smooth (I left mine a bit chunky, because I like chunks). Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later use.

As a note, I think this is best fresh. It was good reheated, but better fresh.

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