I rarely use bottled pasta sauce, and will most often go for something simple on my pasta. In the summer, a favourite is fresh raw tomatoes, coarsely chopped basil, garlic, and olive oil. If I have a lot of basil handy, I’ll make a basil pesto. Or I’ll just do the straightforward aglio e olio — lots of fresh garlic and oil — especially if I’m adding some vegetables to the pasta.
I was recently planning to do an aglio e olio preparation along with some eggplant and red pepper, and I thought I’d roast the pepper first. Well, come to that, why don’t I roast the eggplant, as well, eh? And that’s the genesis of this easy, very tasty, and very healthy roasted-vegetable pasta sauce that also happens to make a great vegetarian/vegan meal.
This is a nice, clingy sauce that works well with pasta of any form factor. Still, I particularly recommend it with fettuccine or tagliatelle. I love how the sauce goes with the wide, flat noodles.
Roasted-vegetable pasta sauce
- One medium-sized eggplant
- One sweet red bell pepper
- One medium-sized, nicely ripe tomato
- One small-ish onion, or half a larger one
- Two or three chunky garlic cloves
Cut the stem end off the eggplant, then halve it (the fruit, not the stem) lengthwise. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and put the halves cut-side down in a shallow, oven-proof pan. Stem and seed the pepper and cut it lengthwise into three pieces. Add them to the pan, on top of or around the eggplant. Similarly add the tomato, halved, the onion, quartered, and the garlic cloves, peeled and lightly squashed with the side of a knife. Drizzle a little olive oil over everything, salt it lightly, and stick it in that 450-degree oven you’ve been preheating because you read ahead.
Roast the vegetables for about 45 minutes, by which point they should be soft and taking on some colour (and flavour). Take them out of the oven and start the pasta water. Get out your food processor.
Put the contents of the pan into the bowl of the food processor, and run it until it’s all puréed nicely. It doesn’t have to be totally smooth, of course: small chunks are fine, or however you think you’ll like it. Sprinkle in a little crushed red pepper if you want some zing, add in some chopped basil if you like, then test the salt and adjust it, pulsing once or twice to make sure everything’s mixed in.
That’s all you have to do. There’s not much oil in here (depending, of course, on how much you roasted the vegetables with), but there’s a lot of veg and a lot of flavour. When the pasta’s ready, just plate it, put some sauce on, and sprinkle it with your favourite grated cheese (or not, as you like).