Roasted Vegetable Pasta

Food can evoke strong memories of times past.  Watching Don munch on an apple in the evening brings vivid memories of horrible stomach cramps.  Aunt Edith is pushing my little sister, Heather, in a stroller and I'm walking by her side doubled up in pain.  Someone had given me an apple to eat before we left my grandmother's house and it attacked me when we were half-way home.  I never eat apples at night since that time.   Cold turkey sandwiches (even though I don't eat them anymore) always reminds me of a late Christmas night supper when I was a child.  It was all we could manage to eat after a sumptuous dinner earlier in the day.   Turnip greens remind me of choking.  Carrot cake reminds me of our wedding and so it goes on.  I'm sure most everyone can relate to memories conjured up by certain foods.  And so it is with today's recipe--Roasted Vegetable Pasta.

A few years ago we attended the summer wedding of Ashley, the daughter of our good friends, Lee and Cheryl.  The whole family went and we had a happy week together.  The wedding was held in Moncton where Lee's parents live and where we always love visiting "Nanny" and "Grampy".  The beautiful beach wedding went off without any noticeable problems (ask Ashley about the wedding bouquet, haha) and the happy couple was sent on their way with every good wish a newly married couple could want.  The day after the wedding a few of us set off in our cars and did a bit of touristy sight-seeing around the Maritime provinces, going to Prince Edward Island for a day or so (meeting up with the honeymooners for a meal) and ended up in Halifax for the last night of the Halifax International Busker's Festival.  We were able to take in a few of the acts at the festival and had supper at one of the many restaurants on the waterfront.  The week ended much too soon but I have the memories which come flooding back (the car trip, the wedding, a double decker bus tour, ice cream at COWS, light houses, Anne of Green Gables, 9 in a motel room, the buskers, Beaver Tails, ferry rides, forgotten pillows) especially when I have the same meal that we ate that last evening in Halifax. 

The menu at most of these restaurants are the expected fare of sea food, steaks and fast foods.  As Don and I are vegetarian there can be difficulties finding a suitable and enjoyable meal at most restaurants but as I perused the menu my eyes fell on a grilled vegetable pasta dish.  It sounded good as I read the description and so we ordered the meal.  It was a dish of pasta with grilled vegetables and goat cheese.  Don changed his order to include a tomato sauce with his and I had mine as it was in the menu.  Either way, the meal was delicious, except for the goat cheese.  I can't seem to take to goat cheese.  Maybe I've never had the right kind but every kind I've tasted has a nasty "goaty" flavour.  (Which would make sense, coming from a goat.)  I guess it's an acquired taste. But even goat cheese reminds me of that good week. 

I enjoyed the meal so much I recreated it when I came home and every time I make it I remember that lovely week we had with our good friends.  I usually roast the vegetables in the oven but they can also be successfully grilled on the barbeque in a grilling basket.  Use your favourite vegetables if you don't like or have the ones in this recipe.  If you like goat cheese, go ahead and use a couple of tablespoons with your vegetables.  I use Parmesan, Mozzarella or Feta cheese.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta
2 peppers-- or mixed green, red and yellow/orange pepper, cut in large pieces
1 small eggplant, unpeeled, cut in ½ inch slices
1 or 2 medium onions–red or white-peeled and thickly sliced
2 Portobello mushrooms, or small container of white mushrooms, wiped clean and thickly sliced
1 medium zucchini-unpeeled and thickly sliced
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 large can plum tomatoes with juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil 
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch baking soda, optional
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cooked Pasta–enough for 4 full servings (Linguine or rotini are good for this recipe.)

Parmesan, Mozzarella or Feta cheese to garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.   Line a large shallow pan with non-stick foil.  A large rimmed cookie sheet works well for this. 

Place prepared vegetables* in large bowl and pour olive oil and vinegar over.  Mix well. With a slotted spoon transfer to prepared pan.   Season with salt and pepper.  Place in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until tender crisp or desired doneness.  Stir once or twice while roasting. 

While vegetables are cooking start sauce. In a large frying pan heat olive oil over low heat.  Pour canned tomatoes into the olive oil and chop roughly with edge of spoon as the tomatoes heat. Cook in olive oil until mushy and juice is thickened a little.  Add herbs, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  If your sauce is too acidic, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acid.  Just before serving add the 2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and mix through. Note:  If using fresh herbs, mix in just before serving.

While sauce is cooking start pasta.  Cook according to package directions.

To serve, mix sauce through the pasta.  Divide among 4 pasta bowls.  Top with grilled vegetables. Garnish with favourite cheese.

Makes 4 dinner size servings or 8 side servings.

This recipe can be prepared vegan or gluten free by using vegan cheese or GF pasta. 

*Any favourite vegetables suitable for grilling may be used.

Prepare the vegetables by cutting them in large chunks.  It's best to use vegetables that take approximately the same cooking time. 

Place the prepared vegetables in a large bowl and mix with the oil and vinegar.  Spread on a non-stick foil lined pan and place in the hot oven to roast.

While the vegetables are roasting, make the sauce.  It should reduce and thicken.  If you use fresh herbs, mix them in the sauce just before serving.

When the vegetables are roasted they should have a lovely sweet balsamic vinegar glaze. 

Cook the pasta according to package directions and mix with the sauce.  Serve pasta topped with generous servings of the grilled vegetables.  Top with your favourite cheese.

Oh, the memories that come flooding back!


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