Spicy Eggplant and Whole Wheat Pasta Salad

2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds)
6 green onions
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound whole-wheat pasta, any shape
1/2 cup quartered Kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

Trim and peel the eggplants and cut them into 1/4-inch thick strips about 3 inches in length. Trim all but 2 inches from the tops of the green onions and cut in half lengthwise, then in 1-inch pieces.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile flakes and stir to distribute in the oil. Add the eggplant, green onion and bell pepper; stir. Sprinkle with oregano and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Stir and sauté over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Whisk together the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice, vinegar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour this dressing over the vegetables in the bowl. Cover and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or longer to allow the flavors to mingle.

Bring several quarts of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Cool briefly in a bowl of cold water (we ran cold water over the pasta in the colander) and drain well. Toss pasta with the eggplant mixture, olives and parsley.

Makes 8 entree servings.



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