Pasta with Oven Roasted Eggplant, Goat Cheese, and Mint Recipe

I trust Chef Marcus Samuelsson to know what is delicious, and this entree posted to his website promises to serve up luscious and more! Since we are currently having a non-summer summer, with cool temps and rain throughout June, hot pasta can fill the bill!

Don’t be afraid of oven-roasted eggplant, it is divine!!!!

Adapted from Closet Cooking

Pasta with Oven Roasted Eggplant, Goat Cheese, and Mint Recipe

Servings: 4


  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 2 zucchini, cubed
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mint, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz goat cheese (chèvre)
  • 1/2 lb pasta


1. Preheat oven to 450. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the eggplant and zucchini cubes on these trays in a single layer. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 20 minutes.

2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.

3. Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mint, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

4. Toss together the pasta, eggplant, zucchini and goat cheese. Add the dressing and serve.

High Cotton Goat Cheese Gnocchi


Instead of boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes or pasta, try these gnocchi as a starch for your next dinner. They go great with roasts, stews, chops, medallions and lots of vegetarian entrees. I love gnocchi, whether slathered with butter, tossed with olive oil or graced with sauce or gravy. Their texture is highly satisfying and filling, and leftovers can be saved for the next day. Thanks to former executive chef Anthony Gray of High Cotton restaurant in Charleston, SC.


6 oz. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups all purpose flour
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. chives, chopped
1 tbsp. tarragon, chopped
1 tbsp. mint, chopped
1 cup goats milk ricotta cheese or fresh chevre
5 or 6 large farm eggs
1. Melt the butter in a heavy bottom pot, add water and flour. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium high heat. Season the mixture with salt and continue to stir until dough becomes very smooth and pulls away from the sides.
2. Remove dough from heat and transfer to a small table top mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add mustard, herbs and cheese and slowly beat until well mixed. Once incorporated, add in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
3. Place dough in a pastry bag and let it rest for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt.
4. Once rested, slowly squeeze the dough out of the pastry bag, cutting 1/2″ pieces with scissors directly into boiling water. The gnocchi are done when they begin to float.
5. Remove gnocchi from water and let them rest on a plate lined with parchment paper. Allow to dry, then sauté in butter. Add your favorite vegetables. Serve.
SERVES 2 – 4

Spätzle (the best noodles ever invented!)

Our family has eaten variations of this noodle for generations. True Spätzle and their kin are so toothsome, tasty and filling, and they go with many different cuisines. Put ’em in soups, sauces, ragouts, or top them with grated cheese or butter. They are fantastic. And although they are easy to make, the Spätzle recipe is not so easy to find. Now you can stop searching, as Johanna from KokBlog has tested and trialed to find the perfect version. And her illustrations are so cute, they might just charm you into trying them!

Ingredients for the batter
(2-3 people)

3 eggs (depending on size)
¼ cup of lukewarm water
about 1¼  cups of spelt flour or regular wheat flour
pinch of salt
some freshly grated nutmeg
a couple of tablespoons of butter


Heat up water until it’s just lukewarm. Mix together eggs, water, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Gradually start adding flour, little by little. Make sure to avoid creating lumps. The dough has enough flour when it’s a little stretchy and easily drips off your spatula without breaking. If you get the dough too stiff, just add some more water. Let the dough rest for about half an hour.

There are many different ways to “form” the spätzle and it’s probably very individual which method you may prefer. Using a spätzle lid is the easiest and the kitchen doesn’t ends up in a mess (see image above).

Heat up some salted water in a large pot that will fit the spätzle lid nicely (see below for other methods). Bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat. Place the lid on top of the pot and add ¼ of the dough on top. Start to press the dough down with a spatula (often comes w/ the lid). Stir around the spätzle a little so they don’t stick together. The spätzle are done after about 2-3 minutes when they float up to the surface. Use a skimming ladle to fish them out. Repeat above steps until the dough is finished. Adjust the heat if necessary. Add some melted butter to the spätzle so they don’t stick together.

Serve the  spätzle with a rich goulashcreamy mushrooms or baked in the oven topped with cheese.

Other methods (and there are more)
Another technique is to use a pasta strainer, preferably those with larger wholes. A stainless steel strainer worked fine, even if it was a little clumsy, the spätzle came out pretty nice, tiny and delicate! Just let the strainer rest at an angle on the edge of the pot (see image above) and use a soft spatula to press down the batter through the holes into the hot water.

If you want larger spätzle you can use a smaller chopping board and a chef knife or a bench scraper. Place one batch of dough on the chopping board and let it rest at an angle at the edge of the pot. Start to cut small pieces of the dough right into the boiling water. It works okay and probably would be better with practice.

Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato Sauce, Cream and Five Cheeses

You can, of course, make this ridiculously simple entree without goat cheese…but would you want to? It’s perfect for that collection of cheese leftovers that hang around so many of our fridges. So easy you won’t believe it. Genius, in fact! Thank you to Food52!

Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato, Cream & Five Cheeses

Adapted very slightly from Cucina Simpatica: Robust Trattoria Cooking by Johanne Killeen & George Germon (Harper Collins, 1991)

Serves 4, or 6 to 8 as an appetizer

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes in heavy puree
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano (or aged hard goat) cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely shredded Fontina (or young goat Gouda) cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons fresh goat cheese
1/4 pound thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
6 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 pound penne rigate or conchiglie rigate
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, sliced thinly


You won’t meet a speedier baked pasta, not one this good.

The recipe comes from a couple of former artists who, on the eve of opening their first restaurant in 1980, felt inspired to add baked pasta to their menu after seeing one in a smoky photo in an old Gourmet magazine.

It’s time to get acquainted with oven-baked pasta, because once you know about it, you’ll never shy away from inviting company for dinner; never wonder what to make to cheer someone up; never go out seeking solace in shoddy takeout, when comfort is right in your pantry (and cheese drawer).


Here’s how it comes together: gather your cheeses; mix them into a slurry with canned tomatoes, basil, and a pint of cream in a big bowl. Boil a pound of pasta briefly (four minutes only), then drain and add that in too.


Portion the whole mess into whatever shallow baking vessels you have, scatter some butter shavings across the top, and roast in a 500 degree oven for oh, about 10 minutes.


The first time you make it, you won’t trust it. The sauce, at first, looks thin and sketchy. It seems your poor penne will be undercooked (it’s only boiled for 4 minutes out of an alleged 13). You will wonder if eating all that cream and cheese is wise, and why five different cheeses needed to get involved.


Don’t worry. During that brief time in the hot oven, the cream will bubble up to just barely finish cooking the pasta, travelling up the tubes and into the crevices, to be trapped until you pick up a forkful and hot cream spurts out under your teeth. Al Forno uses penne and conchiglie rigate interchangeably — both are good vehicles for cream delivery.


Meanwhile, the uppermost noodles poke up like periscopes. They’ll stay a little chewy and the tips will singe to a crisp. You wouldn’t want to eat a whole pan full of burnt pasta ends, but here they’re the most precious, sought-after bits.
All those cheeses you questioned melt into a rich but nuanced sauce — except for the slices of fresh mozzarella. They stay behind in little patches of molten goo that, once disturbed, leave behind stringy trails as you twirl them up. Full of surprises, this pasta.

You could swap tomato puree for the diced ones, but it’s nice to keep the cream barely tinted with tomato. And left whole, the bright clumps of tomato are points of relief that renew your hunger for more cream.


Baked Spaetzle with Melted Cheese and Caramelized Onions

Ok, so we’re not having a real winter here in Michigan. Hardly any snow, daytime temps in the 40’s and the plants and animals keep thinking spring is on the way. That is no reason not to love a hearty, carb-loaded dinner, is it? Herewith I present one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes: German-Austrian-Hungarian Spaetzle! It’s claimed by many cultures, and loved by all. And this recipe (courtesy of a great Austrian food blogger, Ellja of 2 steps away from paradise) is the bomb! Have to have it tonight!

The best part? It’s really easy, especially since I translated the recipe for you:

Ingredients for Spaetzle noodles: 

250 g or 1 cup all-purpose Flour
2 Eggs
1/2 Tbsp. Salt
ca. 150 ml or 1/2 Cup warm Water

Mix all ingredients together into a sticky mass. Dough should be very stiff. Put a large pot of water on to boil, adding 1 tsp of salt to the water. When the water is boiling hard, take the noodle dough over to the pot and either pinch off small pieces of dough with wet fingers (so that they don’t stick to the dough), or if you have a rigid pot scraping tool, use that to cut off small elongated pieces of dough. Wet the pot scraper in a bowl of water to prevent it sticking to the dough. Boil the spaetzle 1 – 2 minutes, or until they are floating. Strain them out into a colander, and rinse them very briefly to keep them loose from one another.

Additional Ingredients:

2 large onions

Couple slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into cubes

5 ounces or so of your favorite aged goat cheese, grated. I would take Raclette for this or goat Gouda if you can get it.

Mince the onions and brown them in butter and olive oil until well-caramelized. Add the bacon cubes and keep browning until they are rendered down. Now toss the Spaetzle with the onion-bacon-butter mixture, pour into a buttered casserole and top with the grated cheese. Slide into a 350 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. If you like the top extra-crispy, broil for the last minute or so. Top with a couple grinds of pepper. Can’t be beat!

Danke, Ellja! Ich weiss es zu schaetzen!

Sweet Potato Gouda Gnocchi

Tasty Kitchen came up with this variation on one of my favorite themes: Gnocchi. This never fails to be a satisfying meal for me. The cheese sauce is pure velvet, smooth and gloriously Gouda. The gnocchi turns out light and tender. If you like your Gnocchi a little crisp on the outside, pan fry them up a bit in a tiny bit of butter or olive oil before enrobing them with the sauce.



  • 1 pound Sweet Potatoes
  • 6 ounces fluid Ricotta Cheese or chevre
  • ½ cups Parmesan Cheese, Finely Grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Golden Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1 teaspoon Salt Plus 1 Tablespoon For Pasta Water
  • ¼ teaspoons Nutmeg, Freshly Ground
  • 1-¾ cup All-purpose Flour
  • 2 cups Milk, Heated
  • ¼ whole Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 3 whole Sage Leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Gouda Cheese (Shredded)
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste

Preparation Instructions


Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper — set aside to hold gnocchi prior to boiling.

Place sweet potatoes on a second baking sheet; bake at 350 degrees F until tender, about an hour minutes. Cut in half and allow to cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into a medium bowl and mash; transfer 1 1/2 cup to a large bowl. Add ricotta cheese or chevre; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 1 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface; divide into 3 equal pieces. Rolling between your palms and the floured work surface, form each piece into a 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over the tines of a fork to indent. Transfer to the baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to a clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)


In a small sauce pot combine milk, onion, garlic and sage. Place over medium heat and heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove and discard onion, garlic and sage leaves. Cover to keep warm.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until blended, 1 minute.

Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Dip a wooden spoon in the sauce to coat it. Pass your finger through the sauce on the back of the spoon—it should leave a clean track.

Strain the sauce into an clean saucepan. Whisk in the shredded Gouda cheese. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over gnocchi and serve.

Mushroom, chevre and rosemary risotto

We had a fabulous dinner last week at Bistro Bella Vita in Grand Rapids — showcasing their stellar risotto — and today I found this divine mushroom chevre risotto on Creative Culinary…it can’t be a coincidence. I must whip this up, to honor the memory of that meal and to banish the drear of our 40-degrees and rainy weather. Let’s get crackin’.

Cook time: 45 minsPrep time: 15 mins
Total time: 1 hour
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock, warmed
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • Salt & fresh pepper to taste
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock, warmed
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese
  • Salt & fresh pepper to taste
  1. Put 1 tsp olive oil in pan, heat pan and coat bottom with olive oil (the olive oil will melt a bit as heated and more easily cover the bottom).Sauté the sliced mushrooms until just tender, about 5-7 minutes, do not overcook! Remove from pan and set aside; leaving any juices in pan.
  2. Put 2 tsp olive oil and chopped onion and rosemary in in the same saucepan and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft .Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.
  3. Add the rice and sauté until it is hot and begins to become more opaque in color (approx 4 minutes).
  4. Add 1/2 cup white wine and stir, maintaining a light simmer until the wine is absorbed.
  5. Add a half cup of chicken broth, stirring the mixture occasionally while maintaining a gentle simmer and allowing the liquid to become completely absorbed by the rice. Continue to add broth, a half cup at a time. Cook until the rice is al dente and creamy (approx 18-25 minutes).
  6. When the risotto is nearly finished, add the goat cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. Add the cooked mushrooms and stir gently to incorporate.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately; garnish with parsley if desired.