If you live in the northern hemisphere, you are probably up to your ears in tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini at the moment. I know we are here in northern Italy. If you are looking for a fast and easy way to use up some of these abundant veggies, I have an easy pasta option for you. This particular pasta dish hails from the Puglia region, in the south of Italy where these veggies are even more abundant than here. My friend, Silvana, shared this recipe with me quite a long time ago when we were over one night for dinner. I have made it quite a few times with a variety of pasta, although the classic version is with hand made cavatelli, which I have made, but didn't get a photo of it with this particular recipe.
|my hand made cavatelli|
I have photographed it a few times thinking I would get around to writing it up, so you will see a few variations of pasta here in the photos. Hope you enjoy it. I hope to get a eggplant and zucchini lasagna recipe up soon as well, whilst we are still in the thick of the season.
|with cellentani pasta|
|Dicing your eggplant|
Pasta al Melanzane e Pomodori
Eggplant/Aubergine and fresh Tomato Pasta
2 T or more as needed olive oil
2 garlic cloves, large or more if desired, small dice
1 large aubergine, (500g-1 1/2 #) medium diced, peel your eggplant and reserve the skin for topping
8-10 Tomatos, (1 kg / 2-2 1/2 # roma style, regular or cherry, diced
or a mix of roma and regular makes a good sauce
6 large basil leaves, fresh, maybe 1/4 cup cut up, more if you like
600g/1# or so pasta of choice, cavatelli, cellantani, Girandole, rigatoni, penne, or any big body type pasta
Peel your eggplant in strips and reserve the peel to fry for a garnish on top.
Dice aubergine and tomatos into a medium dice.
Finely dice garlic and set aside.
Heat 2 T oil up in a large, heavy bottomed pan with deep sides or a non stick pan if you like.
When the oil is hot, add your garlic and cook just until the oil is aromatic making sure the garlic doesn't pick up any color.
Add your eggplant and shake or stir to coat the pieces with oil and cook till just starting to soften, lifting the eggplant or shaking your pan to keep it from sticking.
Remove the eggplant into a bowl and set aside. I like the eggplant to retain its body and that is why I pull it out at this point and set it aside while the tomatoes cook. *If you don't mind or prefer your eggplant a tad more mushy, then just add the tomatoes in and cook them all together. Your preference.*
Add your tomatos to the pan and cook them till the tomatoes break down and create a luscious thick sauce, maybe 15 minutes or so. You might need to add some liquid, (water or stock) if your tomatoes are more meaty than juicy.
Add fresh basil and the reserved cooked aubergine and simmer a few more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Heat some additional frying oil in an small pan that you can quickly deep fry your eggplant peels that have been cut into narrow strips. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle a little salt on top. Add to the top of each serving or your bowl of pasta as you serve for a bit of a wow factor. Optional of course.
|Tomatos with basil, cooked eggplant in bowl and fried eggplant peels|
Sauce is great used immediately with your favorite cooked, hearty pasta or sits well overnight and the flavor just improves. The flavor of your sauce is almost completely determined by the quality and flavor of your tomatoes.
Don't worry if you think this is a large portion of pasta and sauce. This makes a wonderful baked pasta dish the second day, by adding some fresh grated parmesan or pecorino cheese and turned into an oiled baking dish and baked till bubbly, adding a bit of water it if seems too dry.
This is a flavorful pasta, that is sure to please.