Pasta with Eggplant (Serves 4)
Pasta with Eggplant is one of my favorite pasta dishes. The sauce is so fresh and delicious. For this recipe, I salt the eggplant. This is a method that my grandma always did with any eggplant dish she made. She firmly believed this took away any bitterness from the seeds. In addition, it removes any excess moisture and the eggplant does become much more tender. If you have time try this step, if not it is delicious regardless.
1 ½ Cups Olive Oil
2 lbs. Eggplant, Peeled and cubed into ¼ inch cubes
1 Small Onion (7oz), Sliced Thinly
4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled and Halved
¼ Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
28 oz Can Of Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Crushed by Hand
1 tsp. Salt plus extra for Salting Eggplants and Pasta Water
½ tsp. Black Pepper
12 Basil Leaves
1 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano
3 Tbsp. Ricotta
1 lb. Pasta of Choice, I like mezze rigatoni
After you have peeled and cubed the eggplants you need to salt them. Put one layer in the bottom of a colander and sprinkle some salt on it. Then add another layer of eggplant and salt again. Continue this process until you salted all the eggplant. Cover with a piece of paper towel on top and weigh it down with something heavy. I use a tomato can. Let this stand for 1 hour.
Next, rinse the eggplant really well. Squeeze out the eggplant using your hands in small batches. You want to drain any excess water. Make sure you squeeze as much water out as possible. Place the eggplant on a paper towel.
Begin to boil the pasta water and salt it.
Next, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Put as many pieces of the eggplant as you can in the pan in a single layer and fry. Once they are cooked and golden brown, remove from the pan and drain on a piece of paper towel. Repeat to cook the rest of the eggplant.
Once all the eggplant is fried and removed from the pan, you need to take out some oil. You will only need about ⅓ cup remaining in the pan. Add in the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook about 10 to 12 minutes on low heat until the garlic is softened and onions cooked through.
Add in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes and put the eggplant back in the pan. Tear basil leaves with your finger and put in the sauce. Sautee the sauce for about 10 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, boil your pasta and drain. When it is almost cooked remove about 1 cup of the pasta water and reserve.
Remove the garlic and mix in the pasta. Add in the grated Pecorino and ricotta. Combine and serve.[print-me title="Print Recipe"]