Summer Eggplant Pasta with Red Pepper and Tomato

Growing up, my parents would take me for a birthday dinner at the restaurant of my choice. From fourth through eighth grade, my pick was Macaroni Grill. Unlimited focaccia, free dessert, and an opera singer that would serenade me with “Happy Birthday” in Italian—what more could a 10-year-old (or 11 or 12-year-old) wish for in her birthday meal?

Mediterranean Eggplant Pasta. A light and healthy 30 minute meal!I haven’t been back to a Macaroni Grill since middle school, and honestly it’s still so perfect in my mind, I see no reason to spoil the memory. In those days, my pasta desires gravitated to the alfredo-side of the menu, but today, I much prefer lighter, seasonally-inspired pasta dishes like today’s simple Summer Eggplant Pasta.

Quick and easy Mediterranean Eggplant Pasta. A healthy 30 minute meal! #glutenfree #eggplant #wholewheatpasta

A quick and healthy Mediterranan Eggplant Pasta that's ready in less than 30 minutes!

I’ve made this eggplant pasta for Ben and myself so many times, it was almost hard for me to write down the recipe. I’m usually a to-the-letter recipe-direction follower, but this eggplant pasta recipe is so flexible, it was hard for me to pick a single version to share here. Sometimes (as in today’s version) I throw in a red pepper, others I’ll toss in spinach or kale, and still others I’ll swap olives for capers. The recipe non-negotiables are fresh lemon zest, which brings the eggplant pasta to life, and either olives or capers, because they add an extra flavor dimension that makes it addictive.

A simple, beautiful eggplant pasta with red peppers. Healthy, flavorful, and ready in less than 30 minutes

To keep this eggplant pasta quick and easy (the entire meal is ready in less than 30 minutes), I opt for a jarred tomato basil pasta sauce, but you can certainly use a homemade sauce if you prefer, or even replace the sauce completely with generous bunch of fresh tomatoes, sautéed right along with the eggplant. As always, I recommend using whole wheat pasta instead of white, because it is an instant way to make any pasta recipe healthier (fist pump for extra fiber and protein!), without adding to its prep time.

Summer Eggplant Pasta with Peppers and Tomatos. A beautiful, healthy meal that's_

With this light and lovely Summer Eggplant Pasta only 30 minutes from my table, I don’t feel tempted to order Italian take out. If, however, Macaroni Grill would like to send someone over to sing a little table side opera, I’ll gladly enjoy my dinner to the tune of Figaro.

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Eggplant Pasta with Red Pepper and Tomato

An easy and healthy recipe for eggplant pasta with red peppers, tomatoes, and olives. Ready in less than 30 minutes and a complete crowd pleaser!


Yield: Serves 4

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:


  • 12 ounces whole wheat pasta (or gluten free pasta if needed), any shape you like (I used fusilli)

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 pound)

  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 x 1-inch strips

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 12 ounces prepared tomato pasta sauce

  • 1/2 cup pitted green, black, or mixed olives, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


Directions:


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add the chopped eggplant and bell pepper and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, olives, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until warmed through. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.

  3. Stir the pasta into the eggplant tomato sauce, adding a little more of the prepared pasta sauce as needed to moisten the noodles. Served topped with chopped fresh herbs and Parmesan. Enjoy immediately.


All images and text ©/Well Plated.

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

18 comments

  1. I LOVELOVELOVE the Macaroni Grill.  Drawing on tables plus being filled with carby deliciousness? TOTALLY MY JAM.
    I just recently learned that I LOVE eggplant, and this bowl of summer is going to be happening to my face STAT. Pinned!

  2. This looks amazing!! I love love love eggplant in pasta!

  3. I want to dub you the one-pot dinner queen because you make the most insanely delicious one-pot meals! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m diving into this pasta!

  4. Macaroni Grill used to be a post swim meet hotspot for my team growing up. I haven’t been back since either! Haha. I don’t think we are missing much. Love that shot of all the veggies! I could eat that whole pot!

  5. This looks beyond amazing!!!

  6. I can only imagine an opera singer serenading me eating this pasta!!! YUM!!

  7. I went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday and the amount of gorgeous eggplant that was there was unbelievable, I’m now kicking myself for not picking any up. Goshdarnit. This pasta? Infinitely better than anything Macaroni Grill has to offer, and I’m guessing infinitely healthier as well. 

  8. Loveeee all the veggies packed into this healthy pasta dish! Delicious :)

  9. This looks fresh, warming, and delicious! Great combo! I can never get enough eggplant…

  10. I never even heard of Macaroni Grill until I was in college – crazy right? Our town had Applebees and Olive Garden! haha Oh small towns!

    This pasta looks fantastic! I haven’t used enough eggplant this summer!

  11. Wow!  You’re childhood birthday parties sound like a blast!  I honestly can’t remember the last time I ate at the Macaroni Grill, but I may have to visit just for the serenade!   I just love a versatile pasta and this dish totally fits the bill!

  12. I am patiently waiting for my eggplant to be ready to use in ALL THE THINGS and once it is you can bet that this pasta is gonna be first on the menu! Can’t get enough of all that summer goodness!

  13. Hey girl This sounds pretty good!! I’m not a big fan of eggplant but I would try this dish!

  14. This sounds great.  I going to try it with some Cannellini beans. They make everything better.

  15. Happy Wednesday Lady! You know, I’m not the biggest fan of eggplant but I absolutely have a crack at this. :)

  16. I used to love going to the Macaroni Grill, too! Your post brought back a lot of fun family memories that I hadn’t thought of for years – thanks!  That pasta looks AH-MAZING, I can’t wait to try it! I’m a bit behind and am working on the tomato zucchini eggplant bake from last week!

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