Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

This is a fabulous meal to make mid week. After ten minutes preparation the vegetables go into the oven and, apart from stirring them occasionally, there is nothing more to do till it's time to cook the pasta. The vegetables can be almost anything that sweetens with roasting - whatever is already in the fridge or what looks nice on the day. Most combinations of softened vegetables work so each time you make it it produces a different result.

I had an aubergine left over from last week so that was my starting point. I had also bought lots of courgettes on the weekend as well as a trio of peppers. Chopped that lot up as well as a giant tomato from the week before that, being well out of season, even looked like the flesh would be woolly and bland - roasting it could only help and it would add a sweetened moisture to the final mix. I'd also bought a head of fennel with the plan of making winter salad with some chicory but decided to use it too to add a licorice note. The trick of making this work really well is to chop everything to roughly the same size and then use a roasting pan that has very low sides so that the moisture evaporates and the vegetables caramelise rather than steam.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

2 onions, peeled and cut into 1/8ths
1 aubergine, chopped
3 peppers, cored and deseeded and chopped
1 fennel, trimmed of its fern and chopped
4 courgettes, trimmed and chopped
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled and flattened with the blade of a heavy knife
3 bay leaves
2 or 3 tbspns olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tspn balsamic vinegar
250g/9oz shell pasta
Generous grating of Parmesan

Peel and chop all the vegetables to roughly the same size. Pour half the oil into the base of a large, low sided roasting pan and add the vegatables, mixing to make a meƩlange. Tuck the cloves of garlic in randomly and the bay leaves. I would normally also use a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme but it was pouring with rain and the only herb I could reach out my back door without getting drenched was the bay so that was all that was used! Splash the rest of the oil over the vegetables and season generously. Roast in a hot oven - gas 6/200C/400F - for about an hour turning the vegetables from time to time.

When the vegetables begin to caramelise cook the pasta as instructed on the packet. Take the roasting pan from the oven and sprinkle the balsamic over the vegetables, mixing it through. This will lift the final dish. Drain the pasta, return it to the pan and mix the roasted vegetables through. Serve in big bowls topped with Parmesan and a hunk of crusty bread on the side to mop up the juices.


Tanika said...

Thanks for the bolt of inspiration, always on a mission too find new and interesting ways too tempt my kids into eating more vegies, this one was simply brilliant - made more alluring by the fact they could help me pick out the vegetables too use.

bron said...

My pleasure Tanika - getting your kids involved in the process of cooking is a great thing to do. It will stand them in good stead forever.


R.A.D. Stainforth said...

Excellent! I’m glad I stumbled upon this Bron. With your permission, I’ll reference this on my blog, where I occasionally include inspiring recipes.

bron said...

Of course you may R.A.D. Stainforth - glad I can offer a little inspiration.