Makes 6 servings
The recipe multiplies well to accommodate large groups; and because it's served at room temperature, you can do all of the preparations in advance and be a guest at your own party. Mound the mixture on your favorite large platter as part of a buffet; add a simple green salad tossed with Italian dressing and a basket of crusty bread.
12 ounces mostaccioli (about 4 cups)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Dash of salt, or to taste
4 cups peeled eggplant in ½-inch cubes (about 1 pound)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
¼ cup minced shallots
4 plum tomatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Freshly ground pepper and sprigs of fresh thyme or flat-leaf parsley for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add the mostaccioli. When the water returns to a boil, stir occasionally to separate the mostaccioli. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until al dente, about 12 to 14 minutes, or according to package instructions.
While the mostaccioli is cooking, combine the vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, capers, fresh thyme (if using), pepper, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
Also while the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and dried thyme (if using); continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened, about 2 more minutes. Stir in the vinegar mixture. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.
When the mostaccioli is done, drain and rinse well in cold water, then drain again.
Transfer the mostaccioli to a large bowl. Add the eggplant mixture and toss. Add the feta cheese; toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
This dish can be prepared early the day it is to be served; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.