Penne with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

I’m a sucker for recipes with pine nuts in the ingredient list. I just cannot help myself! (But at least I can restrain myself from eating an entire batch of fresh homemade ice cream in one sitting.) So while searching for what to make for dinner this was an immediate win, without contest. Especially since I am trying to bring more vegetables into my meals.

The medley between the veggies in this dish are topped off with a basil-Parmesan-pine nut mixture (which I am tempted to find other dishes to use it in) and then a little Mozzarella. I do wish I had put toasted pine nuts on top, but I might just be a fanatic. Regardless, it was delish!


1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 large shallot, chopped

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 large cloves garlic

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 cups (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves, divided

1-1/4 cup freshly graded Parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 cup pine nuts

1-15 oz can whole plum tomatoes in juice

1/4 cup fat free milk

2 Tbsp fat free plain Greek yogurt

13.25 oz whole wheat penne

Fresh mozzarella for grating over the top


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Add eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, shallot, and yellow onion. Drizzle veggies with olive oil. Toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast veggies until tender, stirring often, 35-45 minutes.
  2. Combine 3/4 cup basil, 3/4 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and 2 garlic cloves in food processor. Blend until crumbly. Season with salt. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Blend tomatoes with juice, milk, Greek yogurt, 1-1/3 cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in processor until smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot. Toss with veggies, sauce, and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella and pine nut topping.
  5. Bake pasta until heated through, 25-35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

Source: The Novice Chef, adapted from Bon Appetit March 2011.

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2 Responses to “Penne with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch”

  • i LOVE pasta and especially with nuts. have you tried cashews? even those add a great crunch.
    your dish looks wonderful and it’s a great way to add eggplants into our diet!

    • spiffycookie:

      I have not tried cashews in pasta yet, sounds great! And thanks 🙂 it’s actually from Bon Appetit magazine originally.

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