Oven-roasted vegetables, tender and scented with garlic, make a chunky dressing that is great with wide pasta noodles. A sprinkling of crunchy sunflower kernels adds texture as well as additional nutritional benefits.
1 eggplant, cut into large chunks
2 zucchinis, cut into large chunks
2 red capsicums, quartered and seeded
1 green capsicum, quartered and seeded
4 ripe tomatoes, halved
2 red onions, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled, plus 2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
cayenne pepper to taste
pepper to taste
1/3 cup sunflower kernels
1 teaspoon reduced-salt soy sauce
350 g wide pasta noodles, such as pappardelle or lasagnette
3 tablespoons tomato puree, or to taste
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped if large, or 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
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Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Arrange the eggplant, zucchinis, red and green capsicums, tomatoes, red onions and whole garlic cloves in a single layer in a large ovenproof dish or roasting pan. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil, cayenne pepper, half the chopped garlic and pepper.
Roast for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but not soft and mushy, and are charred in places. Turn the vegetables once or twice during cooking, and increase the heat slightly if they are not cooking quickly enough.
Meanwhile, toast the sunflower kernels. Lightly brush a frying pan with just a few drops of olive oil, then heat the pan. Add the sunflower kernels and toss and turn them for a few minutes until they begin to toast. Add the soy sauce and turn the kernels quickly, letting the soy sauce evaporate as the kernels toast and brown lightly. This should take about 4–5 minutes in total. Remove from the heat just before the kernels are crisp and leave them to cool in the pan. They will crisp up as they cool.
Cook the pasta in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain well and keep hot.
Cut the roasted vegetables into bite-sized chunks. Toss the vegetables and garlic with the remaining raw chopped garlic, the tomato puree and basil or parsley.
Toss the pasta with the vegetables and serve immediately, sprinkled with the toasted sunflower kernels.
*Crush a few saffron threads in a mortar and pestle and add them to the roasted vegetables along with the tomato puree for an added touch. *You could also serve each portion of roasted vegetable pasta topped with a spoonful of low-fat fresh goat's cheese instead of toasted sunflower kernels. *Pumpkin kernels can be used instead of sunflower kernels.
As well as all the benefits from the excellent mixture of vegetables in this dish, the sunflower kernels provide a useful source of zinc, thiamine and niacin, plus plenty of vitamin E.
Pappardelle are wide pasta noodles with straight or rippled sides. Lasagnette are also wide ribbons of pasta with ruffled edges. You could also use bow ties.