Roasted Summer Vegetables with Vegan Red Pepper Alfredo
Dishes overflowing in the sink. A pile of clean laundry on the bed (and the floor). Greenish red tendrils taking over the bushes in our backyard, splaying white flower buds like soft fireworks. This is the result of a busy life.
Our weekends are taken over by travel. We've filled our memories with images of ourselves winding through forested back-roads, diesel engine humming like a pack of wild bees. We've spent only a handful of weekends at home. Those weekends we slip into a lazy routine of: farmers market & fresh tacos in the AM, coffee shop hopping in the PM, and maybe a movie or a cocktail once the sun sets. Distinctly different from spending the day partying amidst misty, dew-dusted fields in West Virginia or grinding through sun-scorched crowds at music festivals.
I have loved this Summer. We started a band (more on that later), Logan and I tried our first grown-up cocktails, we've met and made friends with the BEST people, and we've deepened relationships with folks we dearly love. And, of course, I've cooked my bum of all season -- just trying to keep up with the amazing harvest of local veggies.
In honor of a season well spent -- and an Indian Summer to boot -- I made this roasted veggie dish with the cutest little eggplants and some prime, ripe cherry tomatoes. I saw them in the produce aisle and had to take them home. So tiny and bright and spunky.
Garlic and shallots add dimension, sweetness, and intense umami to the roasted veggies. The simple veggies pop when tossed with the red pepper sauce. The sauce is creamy, sweet, with a smokey heat and subtle tanginess. In short: yum.
Toasted cashews are the real secret behind the sauce. Blended in, oh man. Did I say yum yet? Warning: Many sexy groaning noises were made in response to this meal. Perhaps only eat it with those you would feel comfy whispering sultry "oh my gods" around.
Roasted Summer Vegetables
9-12 fairytale eggplants (approx. 1 medium sized globe eggplant), halved lengthwise
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes (approx. 3 cups)
8 small shallots, peeled
3 garlic cloves (I used 6 tiny ones), peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch sea salt
Preheat oven to 400F. Arrange halved eggplant, whole cherry tomatoes, shallots, and garlic cloves on a large, parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the veg, and sprinkle sea salt over top.
Roast 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool 5 minutes.
Vegan Red Pepper Alfredo
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/2 tsp + 2 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp agave
1 tsp smoked paprika
pinch chipotle flakes, or more to taste
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup cashews
3/4 cup water
While the vegetables are roasting, make the sauce. Sautee onions in 1/2 tsp olive oil with a pinch of the salt for 10 minutes. Add red pepper, and sautee 5 minutes more. Add apple cider vinear, agave, paprika, chipotle, and the rest of the salt. Cook down for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked off.
Seperately, dry toast cashews in a cast iron pan until they become aromatic and begin to brown. Remove from heat.
In a Vitamix or high-powered blender, combine the spiced red onion & pepper mixture with the cashews, 2 tsp olive oil, and water. Blend on high until you reach a very smooth consistency.
To serve, slip the eggplants from their skins and arrange the roasted vegetables on a plate and spoon over the red pepper sauce (the eggplants pictured still have the skins on).
I really enjoy this dish over Jovial's einkorn linguine. It's a very flavorful pasta, with tons more nutrition than your average pasta (serious amounts of lutein and vitamin B, people).