Penne with Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms, Eggplant and Sambal
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 2-3
Roasting the shitake mushrooms and eggplants first ups the umami factor of this simple dish while sambal adds a pleasant kick.
  • ½ - ¾ pound penne pasta
  • 4½ ounces fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced (6-8 mushrooms)
  • 2 eggplants, cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup stock of your choice (or reserved pasta water)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (you can use any other fresh herb you like)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 - 1½ teaspoons sambal
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • a splash or two, white balsamic vinegar (optional)
  1. To roast the eggplants and mushrooms, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. In separate bowls, toss the eggplant cubes in olive oil, salt and pepper (and white balsamic vinegar, if using. I like to add this just for help with caramelization but you can omit). Do the same for the mushrooms in another bowl but without the vinegar. Be a bit more generous with the salt and olive oil here since the two absorb a lot of oil and the salt brings out their flavor. In separate baking sheets, arrange the eggplants and mushroom slices in a single layer. You can line your sheets with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  2. Roast the mushrooms for about 7 minutes or until they are golden. Remove from the oven and set aside. The eggplants will need a bit more time, about 20-25 minutes total.
  3. To prepare the pasta, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook until al dente.
  4. While the pasta is cooking and when the eggplants are done, Sauté the garlic and chopped oregano over medium heat in a skillet. I like the garlic to have a more pronounced flavor here so I cooked it for about 3 minutes; just be careful so that it doesn't burn.
  5. After about three minutes, the garlic should be quite fragrant. Add the sambal. Try it with one teaspoon first. This will add some kick but the dish won't be hot. I used 1½ tablespoons to suit our taste. The sambal will sizzle and the oil will turn a reddish color. When it starts simmering, add the chicken stock (or pasta water) and lemon juice. When the mixture starts simmering again, add the mushrooms, eggplants and pasta. Turn off the heat. Toss everything together, plate and serve.
Recipe by Lemons + Anchovies at