Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Donna Hay's chilli and eggplant pasta with parsley pesto

I wish I could say that I've been on a extended overseas trip or spend the past few weeks lazying on the beach or even come up with the next greatest invention.

But no.

I have felt unmotivated and not very hungry to cook and thats the utter truth. I'm sorry if my thousands of readers have missed my not so regular posts but I can only try and promise I will get better at posting but who knows?! maybe I will go on an exotic holiday somewhere far far away with no internet and then I actually have a real excuse! The only exotic things I'll be eating is what I cook up for myself in my little blue and white kitchen.

But on a more festive note... Who's excited for Christmas???? I am!!! Has anyone started Christmas baking or soaking fruit or even made their Christmas pudding or cake? I always wish we had a white Christmas where we got to all snuggle up in front of a fire and have warm roast lunches and play board games and drink hot chocolate and tea all day (or mulled wine). I guess if Christmas day was meant to be cold and not so nice weather it's great to plan a day inside or have snow fights outside but here in Australia Christmas days normally rain and it's muggy. Where is the lovely hot summers days we get in January?? maybe we should post-pone Christmas until January when the weather is more of a dry heat and not muggy and humid..hmmm. I guess ice cold summery cocktails by the pool, eating fresh seafood isn't really anything I should complain about hey?! Fingers crossed for sunshine this year!

Anywhooo... back on the blog posting front. The other say I made the chilli and eggplant pasta with parsley pesto from the new Donna Hay CHRISTMAS issue. (I'm such a fiend for Christmas magazines... gotta catch them all!) Super yummy and very easy! I adapted the recipe to feed two people but you could easily double or triple this for more people and it's a great new way of cooking eggplant. I'd never done it like this before but will defiantly do this again. It's go great with steak on the BBQ too!

First I cut the eggplant in half and then make a garlic, herby, chilli oil and brushed the cut side of the eggplant with the oil and baked it for about 20 minutes (the recipe says 15 but I'm finally getting to know my oven and everything normally takes a little longer than expected). Then I added some cherry tomatoes and baked it for a further 10 minutes (again the recipe says 5 minutes not 10). I then checked to see if the eggplant was cooked by poking it with a sharp pointed knife and if it went in and out easily... done! while the eggplant was cooking in the oven I made a sort of parsley pesto and cooked my pasta for about 10 minutes (or until al dente). Once the eggplant was ready and the pasta was cooked I tossed the pesto through the pasta and served up half an eggplant and some roasted tomatoes on the plate along with the pesto pasta. I was a little unsure about how this would all taste but BY GOLLY it was good! I didn't quite nail the presentation of this dish but the taste of of made up for it... really YUM! and easy too which is alway a bonus :)

Chilli and eggplant pasta with parsley pesto.

recipe adapted from Donna Hay magazine issue 78.
serves 2

1 clove of garlic, crushed
pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 medium sized eggplant, cut in half
200g cherry tomatoes
250g linguine (any pasta is good)
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

- Preheat oven to 200C or 400F.

- Combine crushed garlic, salt, pepper, chilli, lemon zest and only 2 tablespoons (40ml) of the olive oil in a small bowl. Rub or brush this mixture all over the cut side of the eggplant halves.

- Place the eggplant, cut side down on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes.
(I always scrunch my baking paper under running water before so it's easier to fit in the tray and it also reduces the corners of the paper burning - Jamie Oliver tip)

- Meanwhile while the eggplant is in the oven baking make your pesto. Place parsley, mint, parmesan, remainder of the olive oil and lemon juice in a small food processor or mortar and pestle and process or smash until it becomes a sort of paste or the herbs are finely chopped.

- After the 20 minutes of baking add the cherry tomatoes to the tray and bake for a further 10 minutes.

- Cook your pasta for 8-10 minutes or until it is al dente then toss the hot pasta and pesto together.

- Serve all together and enjoy (the eggplant is super yummy scooped out and tossed through the pasta). 

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