Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Marinara

I spent alllll day Sunday glued to The Food Network or The Cooking Channel. I literally was in a trance. After weekend after weekend of doing this, I have fallen in LOVE with Rachel Ray's show "A Week in a Day."

Rachel make 5 nights worth of dinners in one day. I would have to imagine it is one loooong day, but the girl does it! It's impressive. I have actually not found a full show that would entice me to prepare everything, but have definitely found a few recipes that I'd like to cook.

This Sunday, I make Rachel's Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Marinara. This recipe called for quite a few firsts for me. I have never made a pasta sauce from scratch yet, never roasted a red pepper over my stove burner, never roasted a full head of garlic and have never cooked eggplant (or eaten it for that matter.) This was definitely an exciting recipe for me! (Dorky, I know.)

The recipe made quite a bit of sauce so we were able to eat it for dinner, lunch then dinner again, but it was great. You definitely get that sauce feel to it, but an unexpected kick of flavor on top of it. I would highly recommend this one. (And if you have kids, this would be the perfect way to hide veggies!)

2 large red bell peppers
1 Holland chile pepper or Fresno chile pepper (I left this out...not a huge fan of heat)
1 large head of garlic
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped (I used dried rosemary)
1 medium, firm eggplant
EVOO for brushing the eggplant
Salt and pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 28oz can of Italian tomatoes
2 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 sprig of fresh oregano, leaves picked and finely chopped (again, I used dried oregano)
1 lb fusilli pasta (the most fun pasta I have ever eaten!)
Flat leave parsley, finely chopped (No surprise - I used dried parsley)

1) Char the skins of sweet and hot peppers to black under a broiler with oven door slightly ajar, to prevent steam build up or place directly over stovetop flame. Cover the charred peppers and cool, peel, and seed. Reserve. 2) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 3) Cut head garlic to expose the cloves, dress in extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Press the garlic into the chopped rosemary and coat the cut cloves. Wrap the garlic up in foil and roast 40 to 45 minutes, until soft but still moist. (I combined this with step 4, roasting the garlic and eggplant together.) 4) Halve the eggplant lengthwise and brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and place cut-side down on baking sheet and roast to very tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the eggplant until easy to handle, then scoop the flesh away from skins and add to a food processor with roasted garlic and roasted sweet and hot peppers, then puree. 5) In saucepan, heat the stock and tomatoes. If the tomatoes are whole, break them up. Stir in the eggplant-pepper mixture and add basil and oregano, salt, and pepper, to taste. 6) Simmer sauce to combine flavors. Boil long, curly pasta in salted water to al dente, toss the pasta with sauce and serve with cheese and a sprinkle fresh parsley.

This may sound like it's a lot of steps, but it is honestly very easy and you will love it! I loved it even more topped with freshly grated parm served with parm covered garlic toast. :)

Recipe Courtesy of: Rachel Ray / The Cooking Channel.

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