This lightened up version of a classic pasta dish features farfalle tossed with baked eggplant and my homemade pesto rosso.
You may already know that I believe in the “Cook Once, Eat Twice” philosophy in the kitchen. A lot of times when I’m cooking, I’ll double the recipe and transform the leftovers into an entirely different meal on another day. It’s a real timesaver during busy workweeks and I also find it to be a fun challenge. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a recipe for my Pesto Rosso, a variation of pesto that uses a mixture of fresh cherry and sundried tomatoes. This week I decided to use the leftover pesto in a hearty pasta dish.
My Farfalle with Pesto Rosso, Eggplant and Ricotta Salata is my twist on pasta alla Norma, a classic Italian dish made with pasta, tomato sauce, fried eggplant and ricotta salata. To up the nutrition factor in the dish I used Barilla Plus pasta, a multigrain pasta made with semolina, flaxseed, oats, barley, lentils and chickpeas. Because of this diverse mix of ingredients, it is higher in protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids than traditional pasta. Instead of tomato sauce, I tossed the pasta with my homemade Pesto Rosso. Also, to make the dish lighter, I baked the eggplant rather than frying it, which cut down on a good amount of oil.This lightened up pasta dish by @foodiephysician features farfalle with baked eggplant and homemade pesto rosso. Click To Tweet
A small amount of shaved ricotta salata on top completes the dish and adds a nice salty bite. Ricotta salata is a dried cheese from Italy. It’s similar to ricotta cheese in that it’s made from the whey that’s left over during the production of cheese. However, it differs from ricotta in that it is pressed and aged, which results in a much drier product. It has a firm texture and a salty flavor and is perfect grated or shaved on top of pasta dishes or risotto. If you don’t have it, you can substitute a small amount of Pecorino Romano or feta cheese.
- 1½ lbs. Graffiti or Italian eggplants (about 3 medium) sliced into ½-inch slices
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 lb. multigrain farfalle pasta (I used Barilla Plus)
- 1⅓ cups pesto rosso (click here for the recipe)
- 1 ounce ricotta salata cheese, shaved into thin slices or grated
- 6 basil leaves, torn
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Arrange the eggplant slices on a baking sheet, brush them with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven 20 minutes until cooked, turning them over halfway through. Remove the eggplant from the oven. When cool, cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 ½ cups of the pasta water.
- Return the hot, dry pot to the stove and heat over low heat. Add the pesto rosso and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir together to form a sauce. Add the farfalle and eggplant and toss to combine. Add more pasta water as needed. Season the pasta with salt and pepper.
- To serve, transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Garnish with the ricotta salata and basil.