Pasta Prima Donna

Serves 6
The Surreal Gourmet Entertains, by Bob Blumer

2 Japanese eggplants, ends discarded and sliced in half lengthwise
1 yellow squash, ends discarded and sliced in half lengthwise
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise and thoroughly washed (leave the bottom root end on to hold it together)
1 handful cherry tomatoes, stemmed
1 head broccoli, lower portion of stem removed and discarded, cut into large 4″ spears
1 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper
8 garlic cloves, skin removed
1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
12 oz. dried fusili pasta
1 ½ cups lightly packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 small dried red chili peppers, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes.
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1. Brush vegetables lightly with olive oil, and place on grill.

2. Place garlic cloves on a piece of tin foil, dribble 1 tablespoon of oil over them and seal the foil, and add to grill.

3. Cover the grill and cook vegetables for approximately 15 minutes, or until they are nicely browned on all sides (except for the bell pepper which should be grilled until entirely blackened). Grill the garlic for 20 minutes. Turn vegetables every three minutes or so. After a few minutes on the grill, spread the leek out like a fan to brown all of the layers evenly. The tomatoes and eggplant cook the fastest; remove them when they are done.

4. Cut the eggplant, squash, leeks, and broccoli into ½-inch pieces. Mince the garlic. Place the bell pepper in a paper bag, seal and let sit for 5 minutes. Then peel off the charred skin by running pepper under cold water. Discard charred skin. Cut the pepper open and discard seeds and membranes. Slice the pepper into long, ¼-inch strips.

5. Bring 12 cups of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.

6. Warm a large serving bowl and place the chopped veggies, garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, basil, pine nuts, and chilies at the bottom.

7. Drain pasta and add to bowl.

8. Add the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and the remaining olive oil. Toss thoroughly. Serve immediately.

Le Secret The more herbs and veggies, the merrier. Garnish A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a sprig of basil. The Adventure Club Throw caution and calorie counting to the winds and add 50% more olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Alternatives Any vegetable may be omitted or substituted. Prep Time Thirty minutes Cooking Time Forty minutes Wine Pinot Noir