Smoked Rosa Sauce Pasta with Eggplant and Arugula
I had a thought. What if (and ah ha, I know this sounds a bit crazy but), what if, we smoked some tomatoes, onions and spices today, and then blended it into a pasta sauce for a meal later this week? My husband stared at me, and then, after a pause said, "Why not? I'm running the smoker anyways; what's the worst that can happen?" Poor guy, he must have had some dreadful meals to be so laissez faire about my ideas sometimes ; ).
Here's the fun part though; many times, crazy ideas can be special, spectacular, and lead to the very best things. This pasta sauce was certainly that kind of crazy; my kind of crazy. The idea evolved into a dish that can be described as singular, remarkable, and darn tasty. I would definitely reserve this pasta sauce for a celebration, occasion, or when you want something extraordinary. No Sustainability Spotlight (smoking isn't sustainable; see my thoughts on the matter in my recipe for Smoked Tofu "Riblets") - just make this recipe; you won't regret it!
Smoked Tomatoes & Onions:
3 large tomatoes (any kind) coarsely chopped / sliced (doesn't really matter - I will say slices will give you more surface area for the smoke to infiltrate your tomatoes increasing the flavor profile of the dish)
1/2 large white onion (cut into eighths)
1 tbsp salt
1 lemon (zested & juiced)
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 batch smoked tomatoes & onions (above)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup filtered water
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 fresh heirloom tomato (large) - chopped / chunked
1 tbsp mellow miso (white miso)
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 eggplant cut into cubes (sweated for 30 minutes - to sweat, place eggplant in a large colander and generously salt; stir with hands. Let sit for ~30 minutes, rinse, drain and dry in a clean kitchen towel)
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 lb rigatoni pasta
2 handfuls of baby arugula
salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients of Smoked Tomatoes & Onions list in a large bowl; dump onto a grill / smoke pan (with holes).
Start smoker; once the smoker is up to 225 degrees F (but less than 250 degrees F) and the smoke runs clear (white vs. black or gray), slide the tray into the smoker. Smoke for ~1 hour.
Let cool and then store covered in fridge overnight; or if you want to make the pasta same day, keep going in the directions below.
Get a pot of salted water boiling; add rigatoni pasta. Stir occasionally until al dente; drain pasta when done (~15 minutes).
While your pasta is cooking, a large cast iron skillet, heat avocado oil over Medium-High. Once the oil shimmers, add sweated eggplant; season with some salt & pepper.
Stir eggplant infrequently for ~5-7 minutes until the eggplant starts to brown. Reduce heat to Medium-Low and saute another ~15 minutes.
While your eggplant is cooking, put all ingredients for the Rosa Sauce in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth on High; ~1 minute (Vitamix) or 5-7 minutes for other blenders (using tamper or scraping down sides as needed).
When your eggplant is done browning, add your Smoked Rosa Sauce to the cast iron pan and cook for another 2-5 minutes until warmed through and the sauce darkens in color and thickens slightly.
Stir in arugula until slightly wilted; now add pasta noodles and completely combine all ingredients.
Serve pasta warm in bowls topped with extra arugula as desired.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie