Dinner Tonight: Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Recipe

Though I feel bad admitting this, I just can't fry eggplant. It comes out oil-laden, greasy, and disgusting. Doesn't matter what I do, or how much precaution I take, it's always the same. But, I can roast eggplants. And, man, do I love the way roasted eggplants taste. Even though I was down to two recipes that had roughly the same ingredients, I picked this one almost exclusively because the eggplant was roasted.

The winner was from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables. I did change a few things. She called for penne, which I substituted for gemelli. And she finished the dish with ricotta, which I simply didn't have. I do think the 1/4 pound of ricotta sprinkle on top would up the ante in this already fantastic dish. Maybe next time. Another added benefit: the splash of Sherry vinegar, which brightens the dish and gives it a slight tinge of sweetness. And for the record, that eggplant came out perfectly.

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Smitten Kitchen's Honey and Harissa Farro Salad

It's hard to get through fall without encountering more than a few roasted vegetable salads. They're earthy, filling, and entirely seasonal. In The Smitten Kitchen CookbookDeb Perelman writes about a few such salads, but the one that drew my eye was her Honey and Harissa Farro Salad. I'm a big harissa fan, and the idea of tempering its spiciness with honey sounded like a perfect dressing base. But what the title of the recipes leaves out is that over half of this salad is made up of roasted batons of carrots and parsnips—two of my favorite fall staples. And if you're lucky enough to live in a place with choices in your carrots, go for a rainbow of colors for a vibrant fall meal.

Why I picked this recipe: Perelman excels at building complex flavors with the simplest combination of ingredients, so a roasted carrot and farro salad seemed ripe for sampling.

What worked: This sweetly spicy and deeply earthy salad is truly fall in a bowl.

What didn't: The salad was a bit oily, so I'd cut back on the olive oil in the dressing a bit next time. Four tablespoons (1/4 cup) would be plenty. In addition, my vegetable batons roasted in about half the time written in the recipe, so be sure to watch yours carefully.

Suggested tweaks: It would be simple to add a variety of root vegetables to the salad—beets, rutabaga, and turnips would all work well here. You could also swap out the feta cheese for any other crumbly cheese like goat or a (subtle) blue.

Excerpted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Copyright © 2012 by Deb Perelman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available wherever books are sold.

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