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by Liren Baker

Liren Baker is the voice behind the blog Kitchen Confidante, where she shares taste and inspiration in the kitchen. Inspired by the beauty of food, what it represents, what it invokes, and what we can create out of it, she shares recipes and images that remind her of her heritage, her childhood in New York, and the vibrant culinary culture she has learned to embrace in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she currently lives.

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  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • I'll never forget one of the first times my son took notice of the eggplants in the market. "Mama, do eggplants grow eggs?" he innocently asked. I chuckled then and I still laugh quietly to myself each time I remember that memory.

    Naturally, they grow eggs! Right?
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • As the changing temperatures turn my thoughts to warm kitchens and cozy dishes, I crave ways to turn my favorite vegetables into simple and satisfying meals. Pastas tossed with sautéed vegetables make for weeknight suppers that will surely please even the pickiest eaters in my family. My little guy will find the eggplant intriguing, but my daughter will find solace in the noodles.
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • What I love about my Warm Eggplant and Mushroom Pasta Salad is that it can serve as the perfect side dish to a roast chicken, yet it can be just as satisfying as a meatless main dish all on its own. Dinner side dish one night, an easy lunch the next. As these autumn days fly by, I can use all the versatility I can get.
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • Warm Eggplant and Mushroom Pasta Salad

    Serves 4

    Ingredients:

    For the vegetables

    1. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2. 1 eggplant, diced into 1 inch cubes
    3. 2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
    4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    5. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    For the pasta salad

    1. 1/2 red onion, minced
    2. 3 cloves garlic, minced
    3. 1 teaspoon salt
    4. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    5. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    6. 3 tablespoons olive oil
    7. 8 oz bow tie pasta
    8. Parmesan cheese, grated
    9. freshly chopped basil

    Method:

    In a deep sided saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add the eggplant and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the eggplant is soft and the mushrooms fully wilted, about 10 minutes.

    Make the dressing by whisking together the onion, garlic, salt, vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Set aside.

    Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, according to directions. Drain, then toss in the sauteed vegetables and dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and basil.

    Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Enjoy!

    - Liren
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