Mediterranean Pasta with Eggplant and Peppers

1 cup raw walnut halves
8 ounces dried cartwheel, fusilli, or your favorite pasta
2 ounces asiago or reggiano parmesan cheese
3 bell peppers
4 japanese eggplant or 1 globe eggplant
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs basil (optional)
Marinade:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup broth
1 tablespoon minced lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley sprigs
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon red peppercorns
1 teaspoon asian chile sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Toast the nuts for 15 minutes. Set aside the pasta and cheese.

Stem and seed the peppers, then cut into 2-inch-wise strips. Stem the eggplant, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide slices.

Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Set aside the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and basil sprigs.

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Stir; pour over the vegetables. Toss the vegetables until well coated. Marinate 30 to 60 minutes at room temperature.

Grill the vegetables over medium heat on an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue, or on an indoor grill pan until they soften slightly and acquire light grill marks. During cooking, brush a little marinade over the vegetables. When done, cut the vegetables into 1-inch-wide pieces. Refrigerate. Save the remaining marinade.

Grate the cheese, about 1/2 cup. Cut the basil sprigs into slivers and sprinkle over pasta.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Lightly salt the water, then cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. When the pasta loses its raw texture but is still slightly firm, remove from the heat and drain. Return the empty pasta pot to the stove over high heat. Add the reserved 2 tablespoons olive oil . When the oil becomes hot, add vegetables and cook until reheated. Add the marinade, pasta, walnuts, and the cheese. Stir and toss the pasta until evenly combined and well heated. Taste and adjust the seasonings, especially for salt. Transfer the pasta to a heated platter or 4 heated dinner plates. Serve at once.



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