Thursday, 9 August 2012 | 20 comments

Capellini with roasted eggplant & peppers

Our friends got married up in gorgeous Vermont last weekend. I picked bucketfuls of black-eyed susans and queen anne’s lace, jack-knifed off rocks into not one, but two swimming holes, sipped whiskey-with-ice, and crashed under a full moon.The happy couple invited folks to come several days early and help with prep, which was a nice way to save on cost and do-it-yourself and a good way for guests to get to know each other. By the time you’ve chopped vegetables next to someone for several hours, you feel like old friends when it comes time to party. (Also, the fact that there were so many of us coming early to help is a testament to how great these two are.)When I got home, I had a lot of veggies sitting around that needed immediate attention or else were doomed to becoming chicken food or compost. I remembered the big sheet pans of veggies we had roasted in Vermont and how good they had smelled. And there was my answer.Roasting vegetables is not groundbreaking, nor is it news to you, I know. But sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves how good it is to coax out flavor and caramel-brown-ness with just a drizzle of oil and an un-shy sprinkling of salt. Tamar Adler thinks you should roast all your veggies for the week when you get home from the market, which is different than the way I normally work, but makes good sense. Especially when I consider how quickly this pasta would have come together.
Which brings me to the pasta: Ben buys capellini. I don’t really like it, except with clam sauce. Now, though, capellini has found its place in my heart, via a fistful of roasted garlic cloves, pounded into a spicy, salty infused oil with some red wine vinegar. It slickens the noodles and provides welcome contrast to the eggplant and peppers. We owe this oil to Martha Rose Shulman, whose NYT recipes never fail to elevate the simple to something special with small touches (she’s responsible for the browned yogurt topping idea, too, remember?) Things have been a little crazy around here, so I took a little breather while the vegetables roasted. I highly suggest you do this, too. If you were silly and felt like bopping around you could put on Demi Lovato. I swear I don’t listen to that song. But IF you did listen to songs like that, I bet it could help you momentarily forget about life’s stresses, like that hypothetical work trip to Nairobi you need to leave for in a couple days. Really. (Maybe I’ll squeeze in one more post before I leave, but if not—see you on the other side!)

Capellini with roasted eggplant & peppers

Adapted from the New York Times’ Recipes for Health, Martha Rose Shulman

You will need

For the roasted vegetables:
1 large eggplant, or 3-4 small ones (I had several Japanese eggplants I used), cut into small cubes (1/2-inch to 1-inch)
3-4 bell peppers (mine were an odd light green variety Ben brought home; feel free to use red, green, or anywhere in between), cored, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch strips
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled, barely crushed with the flat of your knife
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt

For the garlic oil:
7-8 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
A generous pinch red pepper flakes; more to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Black pepper

For pasta and assembly:
1 pound capellini
Parmesan, to grate

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a sheet pan with low sides, spread eggplant, peppers, and garlic cloves in a layer. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until veggies are tender, and a bit meltingly brown in some spots. Remove from the oven.

Put a pot of salted water to boil. Slip the roasted cloves of garlic from their skins and, in a small bowl, mash up the cloves of garlic and the 3/4 teaspoon salt. Add olive oil, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, and a grind of black pepper, if desired, and mix all the ingredients well. Set aside.

When the water reaches a rapid, rollicking boil, add the capellini. Capellini is very thin, so err a little on the low side of whatever your package says—it should really cook to al dente in 3-4 minutes tops. Drain the pasta, reserving just a little pasta water. Toss pasta with garlic oil, eggplants and peppers, loosening it with a little pasta water if necessary. When the capellini is nicely coated with the garlic oil mixture, top the pasta with parmesan, or pass at the table. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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§ 20 responses to Capellini with roasted eggplant & peppers

  • Beautiful! The flowers, the pasta, the instant community that can form when two people who love each other bring friends together to work and play. Love your description of the pasta, it’s perfect – we actually made a similar riff on this one too, and I was surprised how much I liked the vinegar’s tart play with the roasted sweetness of the veggies. Almost like pasta salad. Now – travel safely and bring back pictures :)

  • How stunning!

  • Audrey

    Your posts are always so lovely. I’ve just inherited some eggplant and a few other veggies from a friend’s garden and will be making this dish this weekend. Thanks!

  • My, this looks amazing! Some of my favorite flavors… I’ll be making this this weekend for sure. :)

  • Cathy

    I love roasting eggplant, zucchini, and any other vegetables I have lying around this time of year and making a veggie lasagna. The meat-eaters love it as much as the vegetarians.

  • Martha Rose is the bomb: her bread book is one of my favorites. And those pale green peppers look like Cubanelles (were they sort of long & skinny, instead of fat & round?); we get lots of them in our CSA.

    I am not generally the biggest fan of eggplant, but I do find that roasting transforms it into something smoky & mysterious. And pasta with a side of smoky & mysterious sounds good, no?

    • They’re actually not cubanelles! They look just like bell peppers, but pale green. Really good, actually.
      And re: roasting eggplant—I love it, and I love how smoky it gets. It’s almost meaty. I know a lot of people aren’t into it, but I think they’ve just never cooked the eggplant enough. It needs to really break down. Thanks, Kaela!

  • We made the flower arrangements for my best friend’s wedding. The bouquets were done the night before, and the arrangements for the table were done about an hour before the ceremony. I have to admit, it was very nerve-wracking to be on such a tight schedule, but your post and photos make the wedding you just celebrated look so relaxing and lovely.

    i bought Adler’s book earlier this year and am absolutely gaga for it. It may sound strange, but I think my favorite thing about the videos on her site is the music. Just so catchy and dear.

  • The wedding pre=party sounds awesome, great idea! Intimate, fun get together.

  • Well, I definitely want to visit Vermont now. :) That pasta looks great–easy & delicious! Who doesn’t want to fill their face with roasted summer vegetables?

  • As always, a luscious read punctuated by a luscious recipe. I feel the same way you did about capellini. My dear departed dad would have said it was a waste of toothpower. But now I break it into little pieces and make a sort of fake Fideos. I never thought of cooking my vegetables all at once until I read Tamar, but she’s changed a lot of the way I think about food.
    And by the way, we’re getting married (again) next week. Wish you kids lived closer.

  • There is something special about chopping vegetables side by side.

  • I love the idea of people coming together to cook for a wedding. It sounds so personal. There is nothing quite like Vermont in the summer. Your pictures have captured that beautiful feeling I have towards Vermont perfectly. I’m secretly hoping I can sneak away there soon. Maybe come autumn. I always look forward to your posts. They are always so serene and you have a beautiful way with words. I love the vest and shirts on the fence.

  • Beautiful, beautiful pictures! I don’t normallly use a lot of capellini–it just seems to delicate. But in this context it has a nice, light, summery look. Will have to give it a try!

  • meliSsa

    what a lovely post. reminds me of my own wedding (almost 2 years ago, wow!), seeing all those buckets of flowers and the busy hands of friends.. vermont is my new home state, we moved here almost a year ago just outside of Brattleboro. what part of the state were you visiting? (in other words: i think you’ve found a swimming hole that i have yet to explore! ;)

  • looks like an amazing wedding and a wonderful time. i love that recipe too — martha’s stuff is great, isn’t it? i get to cook and style her food weekly with Andrew Scrivani of the New York Times. I consider myself so lucky. Have a safe trip to Nairobi (sounds hectic, indeed!)

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