Farmers Market Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto

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Here’s a recipe to celebrate National Farmers Market Week, 8/5-11/2012. We shopped at our new Farmers Market in Forest Hills, NY on Sunday and made this dish with the vegetables we purchased.

2 eggplants
4 Italian peppers (green)
2 yellow tomatoes
1 red onion
1 lb penne pasta
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Marinade – mix together in a medium size bowl:
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Arugula Walnut Pesto
2 cups loosely packed Arugula
1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 Cup nutritional yeast

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Slice eggplant on the bias making about 1/4 inch thick slices. Dip each slice of eggplant in the marinade and immediately place the slices on the sheet pan with parchment paper. If you run low on marinade just make more. When the first layer is complete, sprinkle with nutritional yeast, then cover with another sheet of parchment paper and repeat until all eggplant is used. It should make three layers. Cover the last layer with parchment paper (it’s okay if it sticks to the eggplant) and put in the center rack of your preheated oven.

Bake for 15 minutes or until eggplant is tender and brown.

Seed and chop the peppers, onions, and tomatoes (reserving the juice) and place in a lightly oiled rectangular Pyrex baking dish. Bake in your preheated oven along with eggplant for 20 minutes or until tender and the tomatoes have created a lovely sauce. During the baking stir occasionally.

Remove both the eggplant and the pepper, onion and tomato mixture when done.

Boil a large stock pot with water and cook the penne per the package instructions for al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process.

For the Pesto:
Place the Arugula in a food processor and pulse, add the walnuts and nutritional yeast and continue to pulse until well combined. With the motor running stream the olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. If too thick you may add a few drops of water to make it a consistency of traditional pesto. It should be loose but not too runny.

Mix the pasta with the roasted vegetables (EXCEPT THE EGGPLANT SLICES).

To assemble the salad:
For an entree size portion, layer the bottom of a plate or bowl with six eggplant slices (leaving a well in the center of the plate), mound a generous scoop of pasta salad on top of the well, dollop (about 1 Tablespoon) the top of the pasta salad with the pesto (adding more if desired).

Enjoy this dish served warm or chilled.

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