Earlier this year I made a roasted aubergine (eggplant) dip, which was super creamy. Since I do get bored eating the same thing over and over again (except pizza… I never get bored of pizza), I stirred the leftovers through some warm pasta, and it made a brilliant creamy sauce. I thought this time I’d be a bit more deliberate with my cooking, and used the same technique for this cashew and roasted red pepper pasta. Just blend some roasted aubergine into the sauce, and it makes everything nice and creamy without having to add any dairy – so it’s perfect for vegans, people with dairy intolerance, people following a low fat diet, or just anyone who appreciates a bowl of creamy pasta (i.e. probably everyone).
As well as the aubergine, the sauce is packed with roasted tomatoes and roasted red peppers. Most vegetables are improved by roasting, but especially peppers and tomatoes – they become really soft and sweet and juicy. A few blended cashew nuts add a really lovely texture, as well as a bit of protein.
A vegetable-based sauce like this is a great way to get towards your 5-a-day (or is it meant to be 10 these days?!), especially if you have picky eaters in your family – they’ll never know that it’s made with aubergine! You get tons of flavour and goodness without even knowing you’re eating veggies.
The vegetables for this creamy cashew and roasted red pepper pasta do take a little while to roast, but the actual hands-on cooking time is pretty minimal (you don’t even have to chop the aubergine before cooking it!). Chuck all the veggies in a blender, then stir it through some cooked pasta, and you’re ready to dig in. Feel free to add extra veggies if your family is less picky – I’m thinking a few roasted button mushrooms would be pretty great stirred through the creamy sauce!
- 1 aubergine (eggplant)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 red pepper, cut into a few large chunks
- ~ 10 cherry tomatoes
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1-2 tsp tahini
- 3 tbsp cashew nuts
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Few small sprigs fresh basil
- Black pepper
- 200 g (~ 7 oz) dried pasta
Lightly brush the whole aubergine with oil, and place on a baking tray. Roast for around 25 minutes at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F). Turn the aubergine over, and add the chunks of red pepper and the cherry tomatoes, also lightly tossed in oil. Roast for a further 25 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft and juicy. The aubergine should be very soft.
Cut the aubergine in half, and set aside until cool enough to handle. Scrape the flesh from the middle of the aubergine - it should pull away easily from the skin. Add the aubergine flesh to a food processor, along with the roasted peppers and tomatoes, garlic, tahini, cashews, smoked paprika, and a couple of sprigs of basil. Season generously, and blend thoroughly.
Boil the pasta in plenty of water until cooked al dente, then drain, and add the roasted red pepper sauce. Mix well over a low heat for a minute or two, until piping hot. You can add a dash of water if the sauce seems too thick. Serve with fresh basil and some extra chopped cashew nuts, if desired.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose.