This is perhaps my favourite recipe on this blog, and it is definitely the one I’m the proudest of. This is probably because it is the first recipe I made with no recipe. However, my family loved it so much, that I have re-created it multiple times because we couldn’t wait to try it again. I have never been the biggest fan of pasta (don’t hate me). Often, I find the ratio of pasta to other ingredients imbalanced, with too much pasta dominating the other flavours. I have therefore made it my aim to include as many vegetables and other flavours in pasta dishes as possible. This Aubergine Pesto Pasta certainly has plenty of healthy vegetables and hearty flavours, making it delicious and healthy!
A note – Aubergine. Up until about two years ago, I don’t think I had ever even tried an aubergine. I had it in my head from when I was little that it was a vegetable that I just didn’t like, and therefore refused to try. However, now they are literally my favourite thing in the world. I don’t think anything can beat the flavour of roasted aubergine. The silky roasted flesh works perfectly in this pasta dish giving it a creamy texture with no cream at all!
This dish is ridiculously easy to make, and very quick, making it perfect for anyone with a busy life or for students looking for a speedy weekday dinner. However, it is so tasty, my whole family have declared it restaurant-worthy from the first time we had it.
I make the pesto in a food processor, simply for speed. However, you could easily use an immersion blender, a pestle and mortar, or even just finely chop the ingredients.
My favourite pasta for this dish is tagliatelle, but you could use any pasta you have in or prefer. It won’t make a difference to the taste, so go with your favourite kind. Also, I added ham because we had some in the fridge, and when fried crispy it ended up being super tasty, but if you are vegetarian you can easily leave this out. The dish will be really lovely and even healthier without it.
For the pesto, I used pine nuts, just because I love the flavour, but any nuts would work great. I can imagine walnuts or cashews working well with this recipe, so just use whatever you have in. You could also make the pesto in bigger batches and then freeze it to use the next time you make this dish even quicker. However, it’s so quick, you might not even bother.
So go ahead and give this dish a try – it really is my favourite. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Aubergine pesto pasta
- 2 aubergines
- 2 tbsp olive oil (just a drizzle)
- 3 shallots (or 2 small onions if you dont have shallots)
- 150 g peas (thawed)
- 5 "nests" taglietelle pasta (or 200-300g of your favourite dried pasta)
- 100 g ham (optional)
For the pesto
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 large bunch fresh basil (I tend to use the leaves of 1 small plant, or a 30g pack of just the leaves)
- 100 g pine nuts (or nuts of your choice)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or just enough to loosen the sauce)
- italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180°C. Chop your aubergine into small strips about 1.5 cm wide, although it doesn’t have to be exact. Spread onto a baking tray and drizzle with some olive oil, around 2 tbsp. Mix it around a bit so the oil coats it evenly. This is important to make your aubergine a little crispy and highlight the flavour as it roasts. Put into your oven and leave it to roast for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put your pasta in a pan of boiling water and cook until it is ready. Follow the instructions on the packet, but I usually check mine by tasting it after about 10 minutes and it is normally done by then – a little quicker if it is fresh pasta.
- Whilst the pasta is boiling, make your pesto. Simply combine all the pesto ingredients in a food processor, and blitz until smooth. You will probably need to use a spatula to push the sides down a couple of times to make sure it is all combined. Add a drizzle of olive oil just to make it a bit more liquidy. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the basil as finely as you can, bash the pine nuts with a pestle and mortar and mix it with the other ingredients. You can leave the nuts whole if you like, but I like the flavour of them mixed with the pesto.
- Check to see if your pasta is cooked. Once it is, drain the water and set aside.
- Finely slice your shallots and fry in a little olive oil in a large frying pan or saucepan. Chop the ham and add. Fry until the ham is crispy, and the shallots are brown.
- Now check on your aubergines. They should be browned and crispy on the edges like the picture. If not, simply leave to roast for another 5-10 minutes. Once they are done, take out of the oven and add them to the ham and shallots mixture.
- Now stir in the peas. Add your boiled pasta, and finally your pesto mixture and mix until the pesto covers all the pasta and the other ingredients are evenly distributed. The pasta can get a bit sticky and go into clumps, so I tend to chop it apart with some scissors just to make stirring and serving easier.
- Leave on the heat for a few minutes just to ensure all the ingredients are heated thoroughly, and then serve in pasta bowls, garnishing with a couple more pine nuts if desired!
Method in Pictures
Gather your ingredients
And some basil
Slice the aubergine into strips
Roast in the oven for 30 minutes
Boil the pasta
Add the pesto ingredients to a food processor
Along with some oil
And blend until smooth
Drain the pasta
Finely slice the shallots
And the ham
Fry the shallots and the ham
When the aubergine is crispy, remove from the oven
And add to the shallots and ham
Add the peas
Add the cooked pasta
Mix until all the ingredients are combined
Serve with some fresh basil