One thing I always look forward to is getting new magazines in the mail. Well, actually, mail period makes me excited. The newest issue (September 2010) of Everyday with Rachael Ray had about a hundred folded corners, making note of the different recipes I have to try. This weekend I was inspired by a dish starring the roasted vegetable. Three different roasted vegetables to be exact. The eggplant (absorbs any flavor you are working with!), red bell pepper (bold and vibrant), and zucchini squash (versatile veg). When a vegetable is roasted, it concentrates the flavors and allows an entirely new and deeper level of flavor to be developed for your taste buds. The only thing about some of Rachael’s recipes is that she uses a lot more oil than is really needed (in my opinion) and a lot of times the nutritive value of food is lost..ahem..high fat/high calorie. That is where my brain kicks in and starts-a-changing..changing for the better, but maintaining that delicious taste I am familiar with that RR always seems to achieve with her dishes. I opted out of the frying step, and choose to modify with the oven, frying my zucchini with the dry heat of the oven, cutting out the extra oil/fat. At first glance, this heck of a long recipe seems overwhelming, but, it really isn’t. Once you have the steps going, they all fall into place easily. I actually would suggest roasting the red pepper and eggplant ahead of time, maybe the night before, or over the weekend for Monday or Tuesday’s dinner. Planning ahead on a crazy week night will help you to get dinner for those hungry mouths since you would be past the somewhat lenghtly prepwork. This is also another one of those hide the ‘healthy’ stuff meals.. The Fast-Food-Eating-Ramen-Noodle-Inhaler didn’t even know what he was eating tonight, but he ate it all :) I used the same technique as before when roasting the eggplant.
2 small, firm zucchini (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red bell pepper
1 small, firm eggplant, about 1 pound
Salt and black pepper
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 cup reduced sodium, fat free vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoe puree
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, no salt added
Crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese
*Season the zucchini slices with salt and black pepper. Let drain on a paper-towel-lined plate for a few minutes.
*Preheat the oven to BROIL. Half the bell pepper, remove stem, seeds, and ribs. Place pepper on small pan, cut side down, and place under broiler set to HI until blackened and blistered, about 5-6 minutes. Place pepper in a bowl and cover with foil or plastic wrap for about 15 minutes. Peel of blackened skin and set aside.
*Preheat oven to 475°F. Coat a large non-stick skillet with 1 tablespoon EVOO. Combine flour and zucchini, in a large sealable plastic bag. Shake in the bag to coat, and arrange, not touching, in a single layer in the skillet, sauteing until golden brown. Transfer slices, flipping to cooked side up, to baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat all exposed sides with cooking spray. Bake on the center rack for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside with the red pepper.
*While the oven is still hot, halve the eggplant and score the exposed flesh with shallow crisscross cuts. Drizzle or lightly brush the cut surface with EVOO and season with salt and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet cut side down and roast until tender, 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool to the touch, remove skin and rough chop, set aside.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until softened. Drain.
While the pasta is working, Heat a large, deep skillet or heavy saucepan, with the 2 teaspoons EVOO, over medium heat. Add garlic and the onion and season with the rosemary, salt and black pepper. Cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
Using a food processor or blender, mix the vegetable stock, roasted pepper and tomato paste until smooth. Stir into the onion mixture and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato puree and diced tomatoes. Return the sauce to a boil for a minute or so. Season with the crushed red pepper, if using. Lower the heat to a simmer.
Remove the add flesh from the eggplant to the food processor. Puree for 20 seconds and add to the marinara sauce.
Toss the pasta with the marinara sauce, add grated cheese and serve with oven-fried zucchini.
*The oven-baked zucchini, roasted pepper, and eggplant can be made ahead of time, up to one day.