Tasty Tuesday: “Evelyn’s” favorite pasta

We don’t go out that often.

Apparently, trying to offer up your kids as payment for a meal at restaurants is frowned upon and looked at as “wrong” and “poor parenting”.

Anyways, when we DO go out, one of my FAVORITE places to go is The Cheesecake Factory.  If you’ve never been there, I pity you- but never fear!  For the next two ‘Tasty Tuesdays’, I’m going to share MY recipes for two of my favorite dishes there.  Its one of my favorite things to do- figure out a way to make my favorite meals or items from favorite restaurants at home.  Even better is when Corey and I can work together to make the dish- bonus!

Anyways, on one of mine and Corey’s date nights, I tried a dish at The Cheesecake Factory (Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta) without even really knowing I had ordered a vegetarian meal.  Maybe not a big deal to some of you, but if you’ve learned ANYthing about me, you should know that I am NOT a vegetarian.  I’m actually under the mindset that God gave the world pigs JUST so I could have bacon.

This is all beside the point, though.  It wasn’t until I was gushing to the hubs about how yummy the leftovers were going to be, that my hunny said,”Yeah, maybe, but I need meat in my meals.”  I hadn’t even realized this was sans meat- it was THAT good.

So, I wrote down the ingredients and decided to wing it.  I think it came out pretty fabulous, if I DO say so myself.

The following is Amber’s Fantabulous Pasta.  I’m allowed to change the name since I’m not TECHNICALLY copying it.  I’m sure they did some sort of C.F. magic to make it a tad bit better.

1 can of NON marinated artichoke hearts

1 small bag of pine nuts, roasted

1 large eggplant, cubed and roasted on a sheet til soft

1 red bellpepper, roasted and cut into strips

1 small bag of sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 med. bag of broccoli florets, steamed

a container of Kalamata olives, halved

a few cloves of garlic, minced

a med. bag of penne pasta, cooked to your preference

Toss it all together with some olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh Rosemary, and oregano.  And don’t even THINK about digging in til you’ve added parmesean.

And, if you’re stomping your foot and saying,”Nope.  Not gonna happen.  No meat?  No way.”  Well, just add some meat.  Chicken would probably be pretty yummy in this.  I don’t think you’ll need it, though.

Oooo- roasted mushrooms would be AMAZING, too!

Now eat up.  You can thank me once your mouth isn’t full.

And, FYI- the leftovers of this dish were just as good.

***Tiny tip: If you’re wondering about the whole “roasting thing”, here are some pointers***

For the eggplant:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the eggplant in half and then slice a diamond pattern in the flesh.  Sprinkle salt over both sides and try to get salt in the sliced pattern (about 1 1/2 tsp. total).  Set the halves aside for about 30 minutes to draw out all the moisture. While you’re waiting, line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.  When the time is up, gently squeeze out the moisture and pat the sides dry.  Brush the sides with olive oil (about 2 tsp. total), place on the baking sheet flash side down, and roast for about an hour.  You’ll know its ready when the eggplant has kind of collapsed and the bottoms of the sides have turned a deep caramel color.  Once they’re cool, scoop out the flesh.  It should come out diced and ready to go.

For the roasted bellpepper:  Peel it as much as possible with a veggie peeler, scrape out the insides, and cut it into 1/4-1/2 strips.  Toss with olive oil and roast with the eggplant on a separate baking sheet.  It should only take about 30-50 minutes to reach the right tenderness.

For the pine nuts:  Roast your pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, shaking halfway through. You can also toast them on top of the stove in a heavy skillet, stirring often until they turn golden.

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