One of the biggest struggles in our household is figuring out what to do for lunch every week. My fiance and I have differing styles of meal prep: he likes to make one big batch of something on Sunday, to have over the next four or five days, whereas I prefer to wing it: dinner leftovers, restaurant leftovers, work meeting leftovers… you get the drift.
Fiance often takes care of that big batch of something – chili, southwestern chicken salad, something or other with quinoa, but this chilly Boston weekend I was craving something tangy, colorful, and slightly sweet that reminded me of warm weather. I envisioned caramelized eggplant, sweet bell peppers, salty olives, pungent feta….
I needed to make a Mediterranean pasta salad.
- 1 box multigrain penne pasta
- 1 medium-sized eggplant, cubed
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- A handful of spinach
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
- 1/8 cup chopped nuts, such as pistachios or pine nuts (optional)
- 4 oz crumbled feta
- A splash of red wine vinegar or a light squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Fresh mint leaves, to garnish
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
Prepare the penne according to the box and set aside in a large bowl when ready. Drizzle in a little bit of olive oil to make sure the pasta doesn’t become gummy.
Set the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Pile the chopped eggplant and red pepper onto a baking tray and coat liberally with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables have become soft and silky.
While the eggplant and pepper are in the oven, heat a skillet over medium heat with a splash of olive oil. When the oil starts glistening, add the chopped onion and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Drop in a handful of spinach and let everything cook down until the onion has browned and the greens have wilted. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the pasta bowl.
When the eggplant and red pepper are ready, let them sit for 5-10 minutes to cool and then add them into the pasta bowl. Throw in the minced garlic, diced olives, chopped nuts, crumbled feta, and a splash of either red wine vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Slice up some mint leaves and sprinkle over the dish to garnish. Stir and serve cold or room temperature.