Penne with Charred Vegetables

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
1/2 sweet red pepper
1/2 small (or 1 Japanese) eggplant
1/2 small zucchini
2 cloves garlic
1/3 pound penne, or other dried pasta
salt and black pepper

Bring 3 quarts of water (with a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of oil) to boil.

Cut onion into eighths. Cut halved red pepper into 1/2-inch strips. Cut halved eggplant and zucchini lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick. Peel and slice the garlic.

Heat a wok or heavy skillet until very hot. Add the oil, then onion and red pepper. Turn vegetables to char on all sides, then remove to a warm platter. Add eggplant, zucchini and garlic. Char vegetables as quickly as possible, turning to brown on both sides, then add to onion and peppers.

Cook pasta in boiling water, test after 3 or 4 minutes, and cook until al dente. Drain and mix with vegetables, seasoning to taste.

Anything charred this way is going to complement the blandness of pasta, so try different kinds of vegetables. Or, if you want more of a sauce, puree some of he charred vegetables for a nice smoky taste.

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