Bow Tie Pasta With Eggplant, Caramelized Walla Walla Sweets and Pine Nuts

1 pound bow ties, rotini or cavatelli pasta
Salt, as needed
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 Walla Walla Sweet onions, cut in half lengthwise, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, divided
2 eggplants, peeled, diced and cut into 1/2-inch cubes to measure about 8 cups
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 roasted red bell peppers, peeled, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, cut into very thin strips
1/2 cup Italian Vinaigrette (recipe follows, or use your own or a good-quality store-bought version)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup crumbled creamy goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil; set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Add 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 20 to 25 minutes longer, until onions are soft, brown and caramelized; set aside.

Meanwhile, toss the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar with the eggplant and garlic, mixing to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer in a baking pan and place in a preheated oven to roast for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir several times during cooking process, until eggplant is lightly browned and tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Combine cooked pasta, onions and eggplant-garlic mixture with the roasted red bell peppers, pine nuts, parsley, basil and vinaigrette; toss lightly to mix. Season with salt and pepper and add the goat cheese. Toss gently to mix again. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

ITALIAN VINAIGRETTE: In a jar or bowl, combine 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar, 3 peeled and minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Makes 1 cup.

— Recipe from "The Foster's Market Cookbook," by Sara Foster.


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