Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Vegan grilled aubergine & roast tomato pasta recipe

Aubergines (eggplants) are among my favourite vegetables in the entire world, and grilling them is one of my favourite methods of preparation - and then the classic combination of aubergine, tomato and basil is just.... * swoons * :)

I can't remember exactly how I developed this recipe, but I think it's safe to say it was born from a love of that particular combination. In the days before the vegan experiment (which is becoming less and less of an experiment and more of a lifestyle as time goes on - and one I'm feeling extremely good about both mentally and physically) I used to add a cup of crumbled feta to this dish, which, if you eat cheese, works very well. If you want to include it, it just goes in when you combine all the ingredients at the end. These days however, I'm using a very basic vegan 'Parmesan' - recipe below.

Grilled aubergine & roast tomato pasta
serves 2

  • 3 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 15 medium-sized ripe sweet tomatoes, quartered 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small aubergines (eggplants), sliced lengthwise into 0.5 cm slices
  • 200 grams of dry pasta  (I usually use spaghetti, but short pasta types work very well too)
  • generous handful of fresh basil, shredded
  • 2 tbsp of toasted flaked almonds 
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • salt 
  • black pepper
  • Vegan parmesan (recipe below) to taste 

1) Preheat oven to 180*C

2) Place the tomatoes in a baking tray, sprinkle the garlic over them and drizzle with the olive oil

3) Toss the tomatoes in the dish until they are well-coated in olive oil, place them in the oven, and roast for an hour or until they just start to char a little around the edges. I love them that way, but eating burnt anything probably isn't good for you, so turn off the oven a little earlier than I do if you're concerned :). If the other ingredients aren't ready yet, just leave the tomatoes in the turned-off oven to keep warm.

4) While the tomatoes are roasting, sprinkle the aubergine slices generously with salt (you'll be rinsing this off later), and place in a colander to drain for half an hour - this leeches out the bitterness aubergines can have.

5) After half an hour, thoroughly rinse each of the aubergine slices to get the salt off, and pat dry with kitchen towel. Lightly oil a griddle pan and grill the aubergine slices in it until they are cooked and have a nice dark criss-cross pattern. Once they are grilled, cut each of the aubergine slices into bite size pieces.

6) While the aubergine slices are grilling, set a pan of water to boil for the pasta, and cook it according to packet instructions

7) Remove the tomatoes from the oven and put them in a large bowl, also pouring in all the olive oil and juices in the baking tray with them

8) Add the basil, pasta, and aubergine to the bowl and drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste, and toss everything together. I usually also stir in a tablespoon of the vegan Parmesan, and put the remaining Parmesan on the table for anyone who wants more. 

9) finally, garnish with the toasted almonds, and presto!

Vegan 'Parmesan' 

  • 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup of peeled almonds
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until the mix has a light, crumbly fine-grated parmesan-like texture.