It was dicey for awhile.

Would dinner get on the table?

I’d been working all day on a client party and was pretty much kitchened out. But those boys I live with … they insist on eating dinner!

“What are you making?” they moaned.

A quick tour of the fridge turned up half a red onion, a couple of graffiti eggplant, a few green beans and goat cheese shards and the dregs of several herb boxes. A peek into the pantry yielded pasta and pine nuts.

Less than an hour later, we sat down to pesto pasta, topped with roasted vegetables, goat cheese and pignolis.

Pretty good for not knowing what to make for dinner!

Stacked Pesto Pasta

The beauty of this dish is its versatility: Use whatever vegetables and herbs you have on hand.

For sauce:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 ounces baby spinach
  • 4 ounces basil
  • 2 ounces parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil

For pasta:

  • 3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 2 graffiti eggplant
  • 8 ounces green beans
  • Half a red onion, diced
  • Goat cheese
  • Pine nuts
  • Juice of half a lemon

Make the sauce:

spinach in pestoDrop the peeled garlic clove into a running food processor to finely mince.

Stop the processor and add the spinach, basil, parsley and lemon juice. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, then process until the herbs are nicely chopped.

With the processor running, drizzle in olive oil until you have a sauce-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.

Make the pasta:

Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil, then cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise and lay on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast for 20 minutes, turning the slices halfway through.

On another greased baking sheet, toss the green beans and diced red onion with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.

When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain. Place the pasta back in the pot, pour half  to three-quarters of the sauce over it and toss, adding reserved cooking liquid if needed to get lightly sauced noodles. (Add more sauce if needed.) Place the pasta on a large platter.

Put the green beans and onion in a bowl and toss with the remaining sauce.

Place the roasted eggplant atop the spaghetti. Top the eggplant with the sauced green beans and onions. Sprinkle goat cheese and pine nuts over everything, then squirt with lemon juice to brighten up all the flavors. Serve hot or at room temperature.