This Late-Summer Pasta Dish Is Packed With Roasted Tomatoes & Eggplant

Photo: Courtesy of The Crunchy Radish.
I am not going to lie: This is probably one of the best pastas that I have ever made. It is incredibly easy and highlights the beautiful produce that's peaking on the east coast right now. The only catch is that it takes time — approximately four hours of your precious end-of-summer time, to be exact. Don't despair; I have a trick to make this seamless, simple, clean, and delicious dish yours — without the wait.

Slow-roasted tomatoes are the key to this robustly flavorful pasta. Slow-roasting produces sweet and caramelized results that typically take three to four hours of slow-and-low oven time. Slow-roasted tomatoes are perfect to pop in the oven on a lazy Sunday — and to keep on hand for a quick and flavorful weeknight meal.

Tomatoes are one of the few fruits that are more nutritionally dense when cooked. Tomatoes contain a functional component called lycopene — a phytochemical that acts as the plant's natural defense and helps to reduce the risk of disease. When consumed, this phytochemical preserves bone health and reduces the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. Lycopene is more readily available when cooked — and when eaten with a fat, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, or cheese. Tomato-based sauces containing a fat, e.g. olive oil, are an excellent way to ensure your optimization of lycopene.

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Slow-Roasted Tomato & Eggplant Pasta
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
4 cups cherry tomatoes or 5-6 large tomatoes or 10 roma tomatoes
6 tbsp olive oil
2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
5 anchovy fillets (omit for vegan version)
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
1 lb whole grain or gluten-free pasta (I love this brand)
1/2 cup basil
Parmesan cheese or hemp seeds

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Slice tomatoes in half, drizzle with one to two tablespoons olive oil, and toss with a pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange on a parchment-paper-lined sheet tray and roast for 3-4 hours. Smaller tomatoes take approximately 2 hours, larger closer to 4 hours. Store for later use or set aside.

Related: Step Into Fall With This Hearty Chili With A Twist

*When short on time, I have increased the cooking temperature to 300°F, which shortens the cooking by an hour or so, depending on how roasted you prefer your tomatoes, and how big they are.

2. Increase oven temperature to 450°F. On a parchment-paper-lined sheet tray, toss cubed eggplant with 4 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking, until eggplant is caramelized. Set aside.

3. Cook pasta until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
4. In a large pot over medium heat, warm one tablespoon olive oil. Add anchovies, garlic, and chili flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the anchovies melt apart. Toss in tomatoes and eggplant and cook for another minute. Add 1/4 cup pasta water and pasta; stir until well-combined and the flavors are melded together. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with torn basil, parmesan, or hemp seeds.

Next: A Zesty Corn Salad To Close Up The Summer

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