Fettuccine with Eggplant, Tomato, and Blue Cheese
1/2 large eggplant, diced into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt for cooking water
1/4-1/3 pound fettuccine
1/4 medium or large red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or other wine vinegar
1 large Roma tomato, diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2-3 large white button mushrooms, diced
Crushed red pepper to taste (3/4 teaspoon provides a good kick)
Handful fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 ounces blue cheese (plus more for topping), cut or crumbled into small chunks
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and spread in a single layer on a small baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is brown and tender.
2 Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water and add the fettuccine. Slightly under cook the pasta, 1-2 minutes less then the package directions suggest.
3 While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan and cook the onion in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until golden. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan (scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon while stirring). Add the roasted eggplant, tomato, tomato sauce, mushrooms, crushed red pepper, and most of the basil (reserve a few strips for topping). Heat until just simmering.
4 Using a pair of tongs, transfer the fettuccine directly into the sauce and toss gently; reserve the pasta water. Add the parsley, blue cheese, and the extra-virgin olive oil to the pasta and sauce, tossing again to combine. Add 2-4 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and allow the dish to cook for 1-2 minutes; the cheese should melt down and mix with the liquid to create a luxurious sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary with salt, pepper, and/or more crushed red pepper. Serve hot, with the remaining basil and additional blue cheese on top.