It’s August and, once again, I’m that crazy lady at the farmer’s market with 3 overloaded bags and swirling eyes who later stands at the refrigerator, stuffing bins and realizing that only two people live in the house. But, no matter. Summer vegetables are delicious and I can’t help myself.
And what comes of this vegetable gluttony? See that meaty looking sauce up there – guess what? It’s meatless.
You see, I got this idea. When I think of meaty textured vegetables, I think of eggplant and mushrooms, and I had pounds of both. Then there were the red ripe tomatoes, the garlic, the sweet onion, a tub of kalamata olives and a handful of capers. It’s starting to sound like puttanesca, don’t you think?
I decided to roast the vegetables before making the sauce to give an extra depth of flavor. Due to impatience alone, I roasted everything at the same time on two baking sheets. Good news: it worked perfectly.
I may have snacked straight off of both baking sheets, including a whole, buttery garlic clove, but no one was looking so it doesn’t count.
A few notes: First, be prepared for what you’ll have in your food processor when you’re done processing the ingredients – it won’t look like sauce, it will look like tapenade. And, you could use some or all of it for that – it would be fantastic on bruschetta. But, if you want to use it for pasta sauce, be sure to save plenty of the pasta cooking liquid to thin it to your desired consistency. Second, if you want to make this as a vegan dish, just skip the cheese at the end – you could even throw in some chopped walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts if you want some extra protein. Last, and this may sound bizarre, if you want to add some heft, add a can or two of good quality tuna. Trust me, it’s fantastic.
Roasted Vegetable Puttanesca Sauce with Pasta
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch thick slices across the equator
- 1 sweet onion thinly sliced and separated into rings
- 1 head garlic 1/2-inch cut from the top, exposing the cloves
- 1 large eggplant cut into 1-inch cubes, about 1 pound
- 1 pound mushrooms quartered
- 1/2 cup olive oil or more
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup capers drained
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or more
- 28 ounce can or jar crushed tomatoes with liquid
- 1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta I used whole wheat spaghetti
- 1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese or more
- chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Arrange tomato slices on one baking sheet. Top tomato slices with rings of onion and nestle garlic head, cut side up among them.
On second baking sheet, arrange eggplant and mushroom pieces in an even layer.
Season both trays with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle all over with olive oil.
Add both baking sheets to oven and roast until vegetables are tender and lightly brown, about 1 hour. Rotate baking sheets top to bottom half way through roasting time.
Remove baking sheets from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Add roasted vegetables from both baking sheets, along with olives, capers and crushed red pepper to food processor and process to a tapenade consistency. Taste for spice and adjust as needed.
Add eggplant mixture and crushed tomatoes to a large saucepan and stir to combine. Simmer over low heat, stirring often, until heated through and flavors have melded.
Meanwhile, put the pasta water on to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups cooking water.
In a large serving bowl, toss hot pasta with sauce, adding reserved pasta cooking water as desired until thoroughly combined. (You'll find that the sauce coats the pasta beautifully!)
Serve topped with parmesan shavings and chopped parsley, if desired.