As I rummaged through the fridge today, I discovered that I had purchased a bunch of smallish eggplants that had appealed to me rather tremendously during my latest shopping excursion at the local grocery store. With summer in full force, I was distracted and forgot that I actually had them. Obviously, I was delighted to be able to incorporate them in some dish for our dinner.
Incidentally, what I made is super simple. It has also been a staple at my house for several decades!!! Just be aware that you need to let the eggplant drain its bitter juices for an hour before you can use it.
So, here goes. Few ingredients, simple preparation, great outcome. In short, a great dish that should appeal to your difficult eater. It’s not quite so beige as some others, but due to the pasta, it’s beige enough. Mostly beige, if you will!
1 lb. eggplant
½ cup olive oil
6 garlic gloves
1 can of diced tomatoes
freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar
¼ tsp. Aleppo pepper/Pul Biber
4 Tbs. fresh Basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Let’s get started:
Put a large pot with salted water on high heat so that you can make the pasta.
Cut the ends off the eggplant(s).
Now slice the eggplant(s) lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on both sides of each slice and place in a colander.
Let the eggplant sit for 1 hour while the bitter juices drain out.
Once the hour is up, rinse the slices with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
Add roughly 2 Tbs. olive oil to a large non-stick pan and turn heat to high.
Add eggplant slices to cover the bottom of the pan and fry until nicely browned on both sides.
Set the browned eggplant slices aside on a paper towel, pat off excess oil, and repeat with the next batch.
Eggplant tend to absorb oil, so be gently with the amount you add, but also make sure the eggplant slices do not burn in a totally dry pan.
When the last batch is done, make sure you drain all oil from the pan.
By now, you pasta water should be boiling. Add the pasta and cook to your desired consistency.
While the pasta is cooking, continue with the sauce.
Add all explant slices to the pan and lower heat to medium.
Press the garlic gloves through a garlic press or mince them.
Add the garlic to the fried eggplant.
Fry for about three minutes until the garlic is really fragrant.
Add the chopped tomatoes and stir.
Also add freshly ground pepper to taste, the pinch of sugar, and the ¼ tsp. Aleppo pepper. Stir.
Let cook on medium-low for 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta - which should essentially coincide with the sauce having cooked long enough.
Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Turn off the heat.
Now add the basil leaves and stir everything until well mixed.
Serve with the fresh Parmgiano-Reggiano.