Whole Wheat Spaghettini with Roasted Vegetable Pesto

The garden I have with a couple of friends of mine is starting to finally yield a greater variety of vegetables. This week I was able to pick eggplant, cucumbers, and a few cherry tomatoes.I picked the eggplant while they were rather small because, one, there were so many they were causing the poor plant to lean over, and two, I prefer smaller eggplant because they're less seedy and bitter.

 The eggplant in the center was like a conjoined twin...

One of my favorite ways to prepare eggplant is to roast them because they become soft and the browned edges taste a little smokey. I decided to roast the eggplant with sweet onion, bell pepper, and whole garlic cloves. I love roasted garlic because it gets sweet and soft. I pureed these roasted vegetables with fresh basil, Parmesan and walnuts to form a unique pesto. I kept the mixture a little chunky so that there was a little texture; you could bite into a bit of each vegetable or a piece of walnut. The eggplant became very creamy once cooked which was accentuated by the cheese. Here I used one of the best tricks for great Italian pasta dishes: add a little bit of pasta cooking water when you combine the sauce with the pasta in order for each strand of pasta to get covered with sauce.

Whole Wheat Spaghettini with Roasted Vegetable Pesto
Printable Recipe

1 lb small, slender eggplant, cut into approximately 1/8-inch slices
1 sweet onion, cut into slivers
1 red bell pepper, cut into small chunks
6 whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup packed torn basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb whole wheat spaghettini (thin spaghetti)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. On a sheet pan lined with oil, add the eggplant, onion, bell pepper, garlic, 2 tbsp of oil, and some salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes, turning once, until they are tender and browned on the edges. 3. 3. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly on the pan before adding them to a food processor along with the basil, walnuts, and Parmesan. Turn the food processor on and slowly add the remaining 2 tbsp oil. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package direction in salted water; reserve the cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
5. Add the pesto to the pasta along with the hot pasta cooking water; stir thoroughly to coat each strand of pasta with sauce; serve immediately.

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