Summer Veggie Pasta with an Eggplant and Ricotta Sauce

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
Printable Recipe

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

40 Responses to Summer Veggie Pasta with an Eggplant and Ricotta Sauce

  1. I can’t quite imagine what that sauce would taste like, but I love eggplant and ricotta and they both blend with other things nicely. Why oh why is eggplant cursed to always look like roadside sludge! :(

  2. I’ve always maintained that having an avocado plant would be the most cost effective thing you could grow. I tried to convince my roommate’s parents to grow one (they live in Phoenix, AZ) but to no avail. They decided to stick with the grapefruit trees instead.

    I love the idea of mixing the eggplant with the ricotta in this sauce! I made mashed eggplant not so long ago with a Turkish meal I made and it was SOOOO good. I will definitely be trying this.

  3. I wanna garden and a gardener! :) I have an aerogarden which is pretty cool and WORKS!

    Your cookies looks awesome! Kudos on conquering royal icing!

  4. This pasta looks awesome!!! Great idea to combine eggplant and ricotta. I wish I had a green thumb like your husband. Our basil and grape tomato plants were doing great, but an aphid infestation of our petunias spread like crazy. We’re out of town this week so I suspect all the plants will be dead when we return! We are really looking forward to a yard too (and some friendly neighbors that we trust to water when we’re on vacation!)

    Your cookies are SOOOO cute! I bet your labmate was so impressed by them! I just love all the little details – seriously adorable!

  5. It def is exciting to have your own garden doing well… no matter how mini!

    I absolutely love eggplant in my pasta and just about any dish. Baba Ganoush gets bonus points for being just a cool word even :)

  6. Oh my goodness, your cookies are so gorgeous!! You’re a pro! I’m so impressed! They’re too adorable! :-)

    Mmmm, I was swept away as soon as you said roasted eggplant and ricotta… Anything with roasted eggplant, and I’m swooning already… :-) Your pasta sounds SO incredible, and it’s even cooler that the veggies came from y’all’s garden! I’m looking forward to fixing your eggplant sauce soon… Very, very soon… :-)

  7. Ricotta is quickly becoming one of my new favorite foods. It really adds a nice touch to both sweet and savory dishes (hence, my Ricotta Have Me Some Mango dish). Your pasta dish looks great! But then again, I’ve never met a pasta dish I didn’t like. Wonderful job on those cookies, too!

  8. i did something similar with a roasted eggplant sauce this weekend :) except mine went with rice. i’m jealous of a’s prowess in the balcony! those cookies look AMAZING too!

  9. THis looks awesome. I love the idea of the ricotta in the sauce. Sorry I haven’t been by. I have a hard time loading your page and so I have to usually give up while I am at work. I’m home now, it still took awhile. Not sure why….

  10. Thanks to all :)

    Meghan – Oh no, I hope your plants make it!

    Adam – I totally agree, eggplant is right up there at the top of my list of favorite veggies!

    Live.Love.Eat – Sorry about that! I’m not too tech savvy, so I’ll ask my hubby about it.

  11. I made the pasta tonight — amazing sauce! I cut back on the oil a bit (1 tbsp to saute the eggplant) and 1 tbsp for the chicken and zucchini. I also cooked the onion and garlic at the same time as the eggplant. I added a bit of the pasta water to the sauce because it was a bit thick to coat the pasta. Thank you again for a wonderful recipe!

  12. Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it Carolyn, your feedback made my night :) Great tip on adding a little pasta water to thin out a sauce when needed too!

    I used sauteed mushrooms instead of cherry tomatoes and vegetarian sausages instead of chicken, cut back on the oil and vinegar a bit and served with shaved parmesan, and it was AMAZING!
    Definitely going in my recipe collection! C:

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