How does a self professed lover of all things Italian reduce the pre Holiday girth and still enjoy life? Well, after losing 5 lbs in the last month while eating a full Thanksgiving meal, sushi, Italian margherita pizza, wine, pasta, bread pudding, bagels with fruit spread and frozen yogurt, this girl has done it. Actually, I've done it before with amazing results. It's simple but not easy, but once you resign to the fact you won't be indulging for a short period of time on butter, cheese, meat, you'll do just fine.
I can live for long stretches of time without meat, however, being devoid of pasta is torture to me! I'll find a way to sneak it back in, only this time preparing it a healthier way. My creativity thrives in the kitchen on this "eating plan". Whenever I want more substance (not meat) in a meal, I gravitate to eggplant and hearty mushrooms, finding these a great substitute!
Roasted Eggplant & Whole Grain Pasta
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 of a large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 roasted eggplant, cubed
1 can (14.5 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 small can tomato paste
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
1 cup or a bit more of rotini pasta (dry)
Start by roasting a whole eggplant. In a 400 degree oven, place the eggplant on a cookie sheet and roast for about 35-40 minutes. Cool and peel and cut into cubes.
In a large skillet, cook the onions in the oil until soft on medium/low heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes while stirring. Then add the eggplant, and tomatoes (I pulsed my tomatoes in a blender first). Add the wine, tomato paste and water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Add salt and pepper, if needed, and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water, and drain it reserving about 2 ladles of pasta water (just in case). Depending on the thickness of the sauce you may want to add some pasta water to "loosen" it. Add the pasta to the sauce and blend well.
The whole grain pasta added to the flavor giving it a nuttiness! This is even better cold. Serves about 4.