Origin date: January 5, 2010

I have been psyching myself out for this entry. I have been trying to prepare myself for all of the stuff I want to include on this entry. It’s going to be recipe heavy and light on the photos. Fewer photos because I am such a bad photographer and heavy on the recipes because this is a whole MEAL we are talking about folks!

I’ve been entertaining a new companion currently and as a special event, such as New Years was quickly approaching, I felt that some meager flexing of my cooking skills was in order. Okay, so I am making this a bigger deal than it was. The meal is not even close to the most complicated stuff that I’ve made but the feature is one of my most favorite comfort food dishes. Roasted eggplant tossed with pasta, tomato sauce and fresh basil. *sigh*. And for the protein freak in me, I cooked up some spicy Italian chicken sausage to serve over the top.

I made this dish all summer long thanks to a scrappy little eggplant plant that flourished in my humble little garden. It was small, but boy did it sprout an amazing amount of vegetables! I also had a basil plant that, surprisingly, has survived in my cave of an apartment and was a welcome addition to the meal. So, without further delay, the final meal of 2009.

We also had a whole bulb of roasted garlic that served as butter for our tuscan bread. A really great salad with baby greens, spinach, dried cranberries, bell peppers, sunflower kernels and some homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The Best Broccoli of your life, and one of my favorite Italian red wines.

It was a really great meal and the company wasn’t that bad either….

So, I want to share the recipes of the evening and I hope they are as delicious, satisfying and comforting for you as they are to me. Definitely share this meal with others, as it will win you praise, garner you new friendships and secure connections. Well, it should at least get you a hug or two!

Roasted Eggplant Pasta

I used my favorite jarred pasta sauce because the sauce that I had made with my own tomatoes over the summer ended up with freezer burn. 😦

1 large eggplant, cut into large cubes

3 Tbsp good olive oil

1/2 lb. fettuccine or linguine pasta

Salt and Pepper

Your favorite jarred pasta sauce

1-2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn

Olive oil for tossing pasta in

Preheat oven to 375 F

Toss eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast in oven until edges begin to crisp. About 30 mins.

10 minutes before eggplant is done, toss pasta into well-salted, boiling water to cook. Heat your pasta sauce in a saucepan just before serving.

Drain pasta, toss pasta with a little good olive oil. Add roasted eggplant, pasta sauce, toss and serve with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

Just too easy and way too good!

Roasted Garlic Bulb

1 to 3 whole bulbs of garlic

Good Olive oil

Aluminum Foil

Preheat oven to 375 F

Cut off the top , maybe, 1/3 or 1/4 of the bulb so that you can see the individual cloves. Place bulb on a square of foil, cut side up. Drizzle with good olive oil. Wrap up bulb securely. Repeat with additional bulbs. Place on a cookie sheet or in an oven proof dish. Roast in oven for 45 mins. to an hour.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Carefully unwrap each bulb. Be careful because these little bundles are angry pockets of steam on the inside!

The garlic cloves will be soft and fragrant. You can just pop out a few cloves and toss them with your pasta or spread it over bread like butter.

It’s betta than butta, baby!

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 cup good olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste.

Put all ingredients into a tightly seal-able container, shake, shake, shake. Taste and adjust flavor as desired. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.

The recipe for “The Best Broccoli of your Life” can be found here.

Hopefully this dinner will do all the things that I promised and more! Happy New Year!


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