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Roasted Italian Summer Vegetable Pasta

Heard Greg Trooper play twice this week, he’s really great song writer and performer. This past Sunday at a house concert where I prepared the food.

This was the big hit at the house concert:

Roasted Italian Summer Vegetable Pasta

When my parents’ garden started producing it’s bounty in late August, they had to be clever about what to do with all of the vegetables. I was always made to bring a sack of tomatoes, peppers, corn and zucchini to our welcoming next door neighbors, but canning was in full swing, too. My favorites were the charred vegetables packed in oil. My dad had made a little gas grill, and he and my mother would sit outside in the shade and char bags of peppers, then clean and jar them in a light oil mixture with garlic and parsley. When we ate them in winter, they always reminded me of a beautiful summer day. All the vegetables in this recipe can be cooked on the grill and the bits of char only add to the flavor of the dish.

5 quarts of water, plus 4 teaspoons salt 1 pound of farfalle pasta
1 medium zucchini
1 red bell pepper
2 Japanese eggplants
1 pound of asparagus, trimmed
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons to coat vegetables before grilling 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
sea salt to taste
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1⁄4 cup of fresh basil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

In a large pot over high heat, bring the salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to instructions, al dente.

Grill the bell pepper until black, remove it from the fire and place it into a plastic bag. Seal to trap the steam inside. When the peppers are cooled off, clean the char off of them and cut into thin strips, discarding seeds and white pith.

Cut the eggplant and zucchini into long thin strips lengthwise, stopping at the stem so that they remain intact. Fan them out and coat with olive oil. Grill them so that they are charred, but not mushy. Cut off the stems and then cut into bite-size pieces. NOTE: If you don’t quite know how to pick out a ripe eggplant, then cut it, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to sit in a colander for about an hour. Rinse under the tap and then wipe off any excess moisture with a paper towel. This will remove any bitterness.

Coat the asparagus with olive oil and grill until charred but not mushy.

Toast the walnuts for 2 to 3 minutes in hot cast-iron skillet, being careful not to burn them.

Over the pasta combine vegetables, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, adding the cheese, walnuts and herbs last. Serve at room temperature.