Friday, 1 April 2016

Penne with Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables, Chorizo and Goat Cheese

Our weather has been unseasonably warm, and I have been taking every opportunity to be outside using the barbecue instead of heating up the house with the oven. I chose to make pasta to use up some leftover grilled vegetables...zucchini, eggplant and red pepper. I used the vegetables as part of the sauce, and added grilled chorizo just before serving.

The addition of goat cheese gave the sauce a creamy element, which was a contrast to the spicy chorizo and slightly sweet grilled vegetables.

If you do not have leftover grilled vegetables, cut zucchini and eggplant into slices, and a red pepper in half. Toss them in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and place on the grill until cooked. Allow to cool slightly before dicing.

Cook penne in lightly salted water until al dente. While you are waiting for the water to boil and the pasta to cook, make the sauce and grill the chorizo.

Thinly slice, or dice:

1/2 medium onion

Cook in a drizzle of olive oil, with salt and pepper, until the onion has softened.

Add the grilled vegetables:

1/2 zucchini
1/2 eggplant
1 red pepper

Stir in:

2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
1 Parmesan rind

Simmer the sauce until the pasta is ready.

Grill the chorizo until fully cooked.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and place it back into the pot, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Add the sauce to the pasta in the pot, along with:

 a handful of grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

If necessary, add some of the pasta cooking water to adjust the consistency of the sauce.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve the pasta, topped with chorizo and crumbled soft goat cheese.

  • During warmer weather I often serve grilled vegetables, and when I do, I make sure that I make extra. The leftover vegetables are a great addition to pasta, pizza, quiche, sandwhiches or wraps.
  • Vegetables that work well for grilling include the zucchini, eggplant and red pepper I used in this recipe, as well as mushrooms, onions, fennel, beets and asparagus.
  • Garlic can be added to the onions during cooking; I chose not to use garlic. If you do want to use it 2 or 3 cloves should be enough.
  • If you have a bit of tomato paste in the fridge, add it to the vegetables before adding the Basic Tomato Sauce
  • The chorizo can be grilled and then sliced or diced and stirred into the sauce. It can also be crumbled and cooked in the pan that is being used for the sauce, before adding the onion and vegetables.
  • Italian sausage can be substituted for the chorizo. Other grilled and sliced meats can be used instead of sausage...try chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, fish or prawns.
  • If you have any grilled chorizo left, freeze it for another meal.
  • The addition of goat cheese is optional; sprinkle grated Parmesan onto the pasta instead. You can also choose to use another cheese such as feta or asiago. 
  • The Parmesan rind gives a hint of cheese and richness to the sauce.
  • Herbs that can be used with, or instead of, the basil are parsley, oregano or rosemary.
  • When adding the pasta cooking water to the sauce, add a little bit at a time if you feel that your sauce is too thick. I added about a third of a cup, and that was only because I had allowed my sauce to reduce a bit more than I meant it to.

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