Pasta has to be one of the best foods on earth. It's cheap, easy to prepare, comes in tons of varieties and shapes, and tastes oh so scrumptious! When I first started dating Big Smith I was dismayed to learn that he wasn't that "into" pasta... what?! I honestly don't understand how this is possible.
Turns out that his primary issue was that red sauce isn't his thing, and while I think I've gone a long way to curing him of this "problem" with my home-made tomato sauce (of which I am quite proud!), we still try to shake things up a bit in the pasta department.
This is one of our favorites which uses beans (we ALL love beans) as well as broccoli, sundried tomatoes, and baked breaded eggplant. It's such a simple dinner and the variations are endless so be liberal with the substitutions.
Pasta and Beans with Breaded Eggplant:
- 3/4 lb short pasta (I used orchiette but whole wheat is delicious)
- 1 small eggplant
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/2 c bread crumbs
- 1/4 tsp plus 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp plus 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 medium head broccoli
- 16 oz kidney beans soaked and cooked (or one can drained and rinsed)
- 3 cloves of garlic smashed and diced
- 10 sundried tomatoes
- 3/4 c crumbled feta (or goat cheese)
- juice of half a lemon
- several tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel and chop the eggplant into bite sized pieces. Beat the eggs in a shallow wide bowl with 2 tbs of water. Place breadcrumbs, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp coriander and a pinch of salt and pepper in a shallow dish.
Dip the chopped eggplant in the egg, shake off the excess, and roll in the bread crumb mixture until covered. Place on oiled baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Flip the eggplant and bake for another 15 minutes.
While the eggplant is baking chop the sundried tomatoes and soak in boiling water for 15 minutes until softened. Remove the sundried tomatoes and reserve 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid.When the pasta water boils salt and cook according to instructions or until al dente.
Chop and prepare the broccoli. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet or wok and saute the chopped garlic over medium-low heat until softened but not browned. Add 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp coriander, and 1/4 tsp cayenne powder. Add the broccoli and saute several minutes until it begins to soften. Add the reserved cooking liquid from the sundried tomatoes, reduce heat, and cover simmering for about 5 minutes or until just tender.
Add the cooked beans, sundried tomatoes and pasta and saute an additional few minutes and then remove from heat. Toss with the lemon juice, feta cheese, baked eggplant and salt and pepper to taste. Add an additional tablespoon or two of olive oil if necessary.
Top with some extra feta and eggplant and enjoy. I like to serve this in a big bowl at the table with a side of crusty bread drizzled with olive oil.
Our littlest taste tester likes this one and it's the only way he'll eat his eggplant. The best part is that it's great for leftovers and can be served at room temperature which is just as tasty. I'll be having this for lunch tomorrow. Come to think of it, we ate super early for our "family dinner" so I might just need a little right now!