Uuuuugggh... I am really not feelin' so hot today. Last night was Romain's (our friend who let us stay in his apartment for free for a month) 30th birthday party. Let's just say there was a lot of dancing to 80's music (since Romain was born in 1980), a lot of booze, and a lot of, "This is so AMERICAN!" from Romain's brother, Ben. It was tons of fun, but I woke up this morning with a bruised and throbbing finger, and I can't remember how I hurt it. Thankfully, it's not broken.
Needless to say, today I'm a little cloudy-brained.
Since yesterday was my first time back to Romain's apartment since we left, and we're talking about all things drunk-related, I figured I would do a little reminiscing. I'll share with you one of the things I conjured up while we were squatting Romain's apartment. It starts with a bottle of wine... no, not to cook with (yet), to start drinking. Then there's the roasted eggplant. I threw that in the pot with some pasta, tomatoes, onions, garlic, splash of wine, and topped it all with basil and some French Comté cheese. Comté is one of the most popular cheeses in France. It is a semi-firm cow's milk cheese and has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor, much like Gruyère. By the end of it, you'll be nice and toasted (due to constant drinking of wine while cooking), but it just makes it taste that much better.
Drunken Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes
3/4 lb of fusili pasta
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of red wine (I used a Côte du Rhone, but you can use any red wine you like, just make sure it's a wine you would drink)
2-3 sprigs of fresh basil
a block of Comté cheese
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the cubes of eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss together so that all of the eggplant is coated with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, occasionally moving pieces around so they brown evenly.
In a large pot, bring pasta water to a boil and add salt and olive oil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until just al dente, about 2 minutes less than is directed on the package. You can strain the pasta in a colander, just make sure to save 1-2 ladles of pasta water for the end!
In large sauté pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and the minced garlic. Slowly bring the temperature to medium, and once the garlic has infused the oil (about 3-4 minutes) add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent. Add 1/4 cup of red wine and bring the heat to medium-high. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and sauté until softened.
Add the roasted eggplant, pasta, and a ladle or so of the pasta water to the tomato/onion mixture (if your sauté pan is not large enough to hold everything, you can transfer it all into a large pot). Stir over medium heat for a few minutes, just to finish cooking the pasta and let the red wine and pasta water create a tasty sauce. Sprinkle some chopped basil over the hot pasta and stir to let the basil start to wilt. Top with some freshly grated Comté cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves 3-4.