Our apartment balcony is filled with foliage. My plant tending days ended after the demise of Petey, a plant my good friend Britt and I attempted to care for in college, so I’m lucky that Apolinaras has a green thumb! He’s already dreaming of the day we have a real yard, but for now is happy tending his mini-vegetable garden. He has six different herbs growing that I frequently use, along with jalapeno and banana peppers and cherry tomatoes. He also planted an avocado pit that has sprouted, so we’ll see how that goes. Anyway, our cherry tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen and we’ve just been popping them straight into our mouths off the tree every day. But this weekend our little plant was particularly bountiful and he managed to harvest a whole handful of cherry tomatoes! When he brought them in on Saturday and proudly announced that we had enough to use in a recipe, I immediately knew I wanted to make a pasta dish packed with summer veggies.
This pasta is mixed with fresh zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and chicken, but my favorite part is the rich and creamy sauce, which I made by blending roasted eggplant, red onion, garlic, herbs, and ricotta together. This is one of those dishes that is even better the next day!
I also wanted to share the other foodie project I worked on this weekend. I went crazy with different icing colors and decorated sugar cookies for a surprise baby shower for my labmate Sima. Big thanks to Michelle and Julie for posting such easy to follow decorating directions! This was my first time working with royal icing and I was pretty proud about how cute the cookies turned out!
Summer Veggie Pasta with an Eggplant and Ricotta Sauce
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 eggplant, cut into small chunks (mine was a little over a pound)
1 red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 zucchinis, cut into small chunks
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander, return it to the pot, and keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet and sauté eggplant for 5 minutes. Add red onion and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until veggies are soft, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sauté one additional minute. Place eggplant mixture, ricotta cheese, vinegar, salt, oregano, and basil in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth sauce forms.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat and sauté zuchinni for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove zucchini and add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add chicken and sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and no longer pink in the center.
Mix pasta, sauce, chicken, zucchini, and tomatoes until the sauce evenly coats all ingredients. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition: 449 calories, 11.5g fat, 10.7g fiber, 34.4g protein per serving
Cost: $1.43 per serving