Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pasta Salad with Eggplant and Red Peppers tossed in Chickpea Sauce

This salad was made for a bbq, that turned out to be less bbq, and more inside air conditioned affair. I have a sadistic love of the heat in DC, so I was disappointed. Everyone else was quite comfortable.

I pulled this salad together on Saturday morning, in my wee kitchen, my hulking figure hunched over the stove. OK, so I'm not Godzilla, but sometimes I like to think of myself as a big action figure in a small doll house. It makes city living seem more reasonable. Otherwise, why the heck would two people and a cat voluntarily share so few square feet?? Must be for the entertainment factor.

After salad making was done (note: sadly, no offers to turn the adventure into a comic strip have come in), husband (he's still unnamed; shall we have a contest?) and I went for a bike ride, again taking advantage of the 95 degree weather. All was fine, even fabulous, until about mile 30. At that point, I abruptly abandoned my new road bike and sprinted in the direction of a suburban sprinkler system, prepared to roll around in their lawn, if need be.

The passers-by in their air conditioned cars looked horrified, but I was downright gleeful. Unfortunately, even after a good soaking, I was still speaking jiberish and threatening to completely jump ship if my head didn't cool off a little.

We biked a few more miles to a grocery store, where husband announced that what I needed in life at that very moment was a banana. I haven't had a banana in probably a year, because they always seem like such a commitment. And it's so easy for the texture to feel like pureed cardboard. But the reunion was sweeter than I ever could have imagined.

The banana was the perfect temperature (grocery store cool) and ripeness-- bright yellow, with no green, but also no brown. For about ten minutes, I communed with this fabulous fruit, and we had an earnest conversation, the banana and I.  I promised to eat more in the future. My sanity having been restored, we continued the ride back into the city. I'd like to dedicate Saturday to that banana; it was so humble, yet so heavenly.

Moral of the story: dehydration makes you loopy. Even salty girl's salt balances get out of whack from time to time. Eat bananas, be happy.

Pasta Salad with Eggplant and Red Peppers tossed in Chickpea Sauce 


1/2 lb shaped pasta
2TB olive oil 
1/4 white onion, chopped finely 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, sliced thinly into 1 inch strips
1 medium eggplant, cubed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper 
1.5 c chickpeas
1 TB ricotta 
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 c Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped 


Cook pasta in salted water.  Remove pasta and drain when quite al dente.  Reserve 1 c of cooking liquid.  Run pasta under cold water for several minutes to stop cooking. Set aside. 

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and saute until soft.  Add garlic, and red peppers saute an additional 3-4 minutes.  Add eggplant, stirring to coat in oil.  Add red pepper flakes, and stir to combine.  

Turn heat down to low-medium, and add a few tablespoons of water to skillet.  Stir well, and cover skillet.  Cook covered, stirring frequently, until eggplant softens.  Take mixture off of heat before eggplant begins to fall apart. Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Set mixture aside, and allow to cool. 

To prepare sauce, add chickpeas and ricotta to food processor, and combine. Add pasta water slowly, until sauce is consistency of tomato sauce. 

To prepare salad, combine pasta, eggplant mixture, and chick-pea sauce in a large bowl.  Add lemon juice and parsley to mixture.  Serve room temperature, or refrigerate for an hour prior to serving. Serves 4.  

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