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Tortellini Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, and Eggplant

Tortellini Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, and Eggplant 6 Side Servings

FYI: We served this as a side dish for our 4th of July BBQ, but it would also make a satisfying entree for 2 or 3. Note: The veggies can be made several hours before cooking the pasta. Keep covered in the fridge and then bring back to room temperature about an hour before assembling the pasta with the vegetables. No need to reheat the vegetables, as the salad is served warm or at room temperature. I added the room temp veggies to the hot pasta and then sprinkled with some grated cheese. Tip: I find it’s easier to roast the peppers by cutting the top and bottom off and then slicing the “body” in half lengthwise. The pieces lie flat (with a nudge from the palm of my hand) on the broiling pan, and char evenly. Use all of the pieces. Ingredients: 1 medium eggplant (about ½ lb.) cut into ½ inch dice – $2.00 salt – stock dried oregano – stock olive oil – stock 1 large shallot, diced – $0.39 3 medium tomatoes, (about ¾ lb.) cored, seeded, and cut into ½ inch dice – 1 clove garlic, minced – stock 2 Teaspoons brown sugar – stock 1 red Bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered – $0.95 1 yellow Bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered – $0.76 ¼ Teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste) – stock ½ cup fresh basil, chopped – $1.99 1 lb. cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions – $2.59 1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese –optional Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $8.68 Total Per 6 Side Servings: $1.45 Directions: 1. “Sweat” the diced eggplant: spread the veggie pieces on a cookie rack lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and allow to stand for 20 minutes. Blot dry with fresh paper towels. Transfer to a cookie sheet and toss with about 2 Teaspoons of olive oil. Spread evenly into a single layer and sprinkle lightly with the dried oregano. Cover with tin foil. 2. Meanwhile, as the eggplant sweats, prepare the peppers. Position the oven rack closest to the broiler flame. (Alternatively, using tongs, hold the pepper pieces over an open flame until charred.) Place the pepper pieces on a broiling pan or baking sheet and cook until evenly charred, rotating the pieces as needed. (In my broiler, the whole process takes 10 minutes.) Transfer the peppers to a closed brown paper bag and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin and cut the roasted peppers into ½ inch dice. Set aside. 3. Position the oven rack to the bottom third. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast the prepared eggplant for 10 minutes, or until soft and tender. (The pieces should retain their shape.) 4. Meanwhile, heat about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the shallot and cook over a medium flame until the onion is pale gold, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté an additional 5 minutes. Lower the heat if the shallots begin to brown. 5. Add the diced tomatoes to the onion-garlic mixture and sauté 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the brown sugar and continue cooking until the tomatoes are soft and have rendered their juices, about 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and simmer, uncovered for about 5 minutes. 6. Toss all of the prepared veggies into a large mixing bowl, and set aside. 7. Cook the tortellini according to package directions. When al dente, drain in a large colander. Return the pasta to the pot and lightly drizzle with olive oil, stirring well to combine. 8. Toss the tortellini into the prepared veggies, and sprinkle with grated cheese, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.