This unique charred eggplant pasta is smoky, slightly sweet, and has a subtle kick of heat. Fun ingredients like raisins and pecans add an interesting twist with lots of texture, while crumbled goat cheese adds a tangy richness as it melts into the saucy orecchiette. If you’re looking to try something new for your next summer dinner, this is it!
What I love about recipe testing is that one failed recipe idea can turn into a completely new and delicious success…in a matter of minutes. My initial idea was this: grilled halloumi cheese with an eggplant & tomato topping.
After charring the eggplant and adding it to the tomato mixture, I realized the texture was just not going to work for a topping. And after messing up grilling the halloumi, I quickly gave up on the idea. But that eggplant mixture was delicious, and I wanted to use it up somehow. A pasta sauce sounded like just the right thing to try.
And so this charred eggplant pasta came to be! With the ingredients (raisins, pecans, honey, red wine vinegar, etc.) I intended for the halloumi included as well…making it as unique and interesting as it sounds!
charred eggplant pasta – the details
You’ll start by charring the eggplant as if you were making baba ganoush (over a hot grill until blackened and extremely tender). Once peeled, the eggplant goes into a skillet of caramelized shallots and tomatoes. Lots of flavor gets added in – intense tomato paste and a pinch of red pepper flakes, plus the vinegar, honey, and raisins.
The vinegar and honey add the perfect sweet and tangy touch to the sauce. The raisins, however, are completely optional. I had them on hand and happen to love them, so I tossed them in. They plump up and give the pasta an interesting bite. If they’re not your thing, leave them out.
In the meantime you’ll get some orecchiette (or any other short pasta like penne or fusilli) cooking and add some of that starchy pasta water to the sauce. Once everything’s combined, a little olive oil helps bring it all together. Toss well and finish things off with lots of fresh parsley.
After you plate the pasta, you’ll add goat cheese and olive oil toasted pecans over top. The goat cheese melts into the pasta, creating a rich and creamy texture that is so delicious and the pecans add an unexpected crunch.
Serve this with some grilled steaks and a big salad…and maybe a plum galette for dessert!
If you’re looking for more summer pasta recipes, here are a few to try:Print
Charred Eggplant Pasta with Tomatoes & Goat Cheese
orecchiette pasta tossed in a charred eggplant sauce with tomatoes, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and parsley, plus creamy goat cheese and toasted pecans over top
- 1 large eggplant (approximately 1 ¼ lbs)
- olive oil (about a ½ cup total)
- ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- kosher salt
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 4 roma tomatoes (approximately 1 lb), diced
- ½ lb orecchiette (or other short pasta)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- ½ cup raisins (optional)
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- extra red pepper flakes and parsley, to garnish
- Heat the grill over high heat. Place the eggplant onto the grill and cover the lid. Cook for about 20 minutes, turning the eggplant every 5 minutes or so to fully rotate it. The eggplant should be blackened on the outside and tender on the inside. Let the eggplant cool slightly. Peel off the blackened skin (it doesn’t have to be perfect) and discard the stem. Roughly chop the eggplant.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pecans and toast for a minute or so until golden and fragrant, stirring often. Transfer them to a plate and season with a pinch of salt.
- Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil, along with the shallot. Cook for 1-2 minutes until slightly caramelized. Add the diced tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, drop the orecchiette and cook according to the package’s instructions.
- Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes to the tomatoes and cook for a minute. Stir in the eggplant, red wine vinegar, honey, and raisins. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Retrieve a ½ cup of pasta water from the pot and add it to the skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir well to coat. Stir in a ¼ cup of olive oil and the parsley. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
- Plate the pasta with the crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans over top, plus more red pepper flakes and parsley to garnish.
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