Monday, June 27, 2011

Sun-Dried Tomato & Eggplant Cream Sauce over Penne

What sounds better on a blazing hot night then a big warm bowl of pasta with cream sauce?
Popsicles, ice cream, ice water, otter pops..all these things sound better instead of standing in the kitchen with the oven on 400 degrees and 3 out of the 4 burners going. I don't know WHAT I was thinking preparing something so heat-consuming on a night like this, luckily the sauce was delicious and sitting out on the front steps cooled us down as we ate.

Cashew based cream sauce blended with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted eggplant, plum tomatoes and fresh basil over penne and lightly sauteed vegetables.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Eggplant Cream Sauce
5 tbl extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 large eggplant, peeled, small dice
1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 canned whole plum tomatoes plus 1/2 cup juice
1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
6 oz penne pasta
1-15 oz can whole artichokes, halved
1 red bell pepper, thin strips

Soak the cashews in 2 cups of water for at least 2 hours to overnight.
Place the diced eggplant in a colander and sprinkle 2 tsp of salt over top. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to extract excess moisture. Shake and pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange the eggplant in a single layer. Drizzle with 2 tbl olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.
In a medium sized pot, heat 2 tbl of oil and saute the onions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste until soft and translucent, 10 minutes.
Drain the cashews and puree in a blender to get it as smooth as possible. Add the onion mixture, whole tomatoes with juice and 1/2-3/4 cup almond milk to help the blender. Puree until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
Transfer back to the pot and add the remaining almond milk. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Saute the artichokes and red bell pepper in 1 tbl of oil and a pinch of salt in another pan until tender but still with some crisp texture.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 10 minutes until al dente. Drain and toss with some sauce, fresh basil and the vegetables.

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