I’m Alive! Osama Bin Laden Is Not! I spent all last week visiting with my grandparents who were in town from Texas. I tried desperately to write/post the recipes I had ready to go…but I just couldn’t bring myself to do anymore then to answer emails. I got home from Tampa on Saturday afternoon with a whole list of things to get done…and instead I slept. I slept for 13 hours straight. I honestly felt like I needed a vacation from my “vacation”.  So when I woke up today, Sunday, I felt refreshed and I tackled that to do list.

First up was this Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch. Thankfully, after a few gallons of coffee, I was able to concentrate on my knife skills well enough to chop up all the veggies for this pasta. This pasta definitely fits into the Veggiefull recipes I have been talking about the last few weeks! There are over 6 different veggies in this dish, including the vitamin packed Eggplant. This recipe does take a little longer then most pastas, but it is definitely worth the extra time!

Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 large shallot, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves, divided
1 1/4 cup freshly graded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 15 oz can whole plum tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup fat free milk
2 tablespoons fat free plain Greek yogurt
13.25 oz whole wheat penne
Fresh mozzarella for grating over the top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Add eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, shallot, and yellow onion. Drizzle veggies with 2 tbsp oil. Toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast veggies until tender, stirring often, 35-45 minutes.

Combine 3/4 cup basil, 3/4 cup parmesan, pine nuts, and 2 garlic cloves in food processor. Blend until crumbly. Season with salt. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Blend tomatoes with juice, milk, greek yogurt, 1 1/3 cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in processor until smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot. Toss with veggies, sauce, and 1/2 cup parmesan. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella and pine nut topping.

Bake pasta until heated through, 25-35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.