Years ago, Amy and I came across a great cookbook called, Pasta Harvest. It’s so good that we each got a copy and both versions have been well used over the years. Sadly, it seems to be out of print, but you can still sometimes find a used version for sale, like in the Amazon link above.
One of the best features of the book is that it is arranged by vegetable. Not season, like so many trendy new cookbooks, but each vegetable gets its own glorious section. So if your garden, CSA box, or farmer’s market is overflowing with say, eggplant, there is a whole chapter of recipes to browse. And that is how I found this pasta. I have changed it a bit, but the elements are the same. So simple, but so good.
Now, I admit, I love eggplant and Amy and I both have several recipes featuring this lovely vegetable to share. I decided to start with this one because we just made it for dinner and were reminded of how good it is! I have a number of recipes that I save all year for when my CSA box offers up a particular item. That said, it can be easy to forgot just how awesome they are when you only make them a few months each year. This one is worth it! I also recommend seeking out a nice globe eggplant. Globe eggplants are the big rounded ones, not the long slender Japanese versions. They have many delicious uses, but you really want a globe eggplant here.
Before we get started on the recipe, I do have a funny eggplant story to share. Tim has always had a bad habit of sneaking bites of whatever veggie is on my cutting board while I am making dinner. One summer early in our marriage, he walked by, grabbed a cube of raw eggplant, and popped it in his mouth. As much as I love cooked eggplant, raw it has the consistency of a kitchen sponge and I suspect it was not very tasty. That almost cured him of the cutting board thievery, almost. If carrots are involved, all bets are off, but he does avoid the raw eggplant. However, this pasta is so good, he wanted leftovers for lunch the next day.
- 1 medium globe eggplant
- 1 large tomato
- 3 Tb olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt to taste
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 3/4 lb penne pasta (uncooked)
- 1/2 cup parmesan, fresh grated
- About 4-5 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
- Preheat your broiler. Combine olive oil and minced garlic in a small bowl and set aside.
- Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange on a cookie sheet or broiler pan. Core tomato and cut in half. Add tomato halves, cut side up, in the pan alongside the eggplant rounds.
- Brush the surface of each eggplant round and both tomato halves with some of the garlic oil mixture. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
- Broil till barely browned, about 5 min. Turn eggplant rounds over and brush the other side with oil. Return to broiler for another 5 minutes. At this point the eggplant should be cooked through and just lightly browned and the tomato will be soft and sizzling.
- Set aside to cool. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
- While waiting, check if the eggplants are cool enough to handle. If so, begin cutting them into aprox 1/2 inch pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Chop the soft tomatoes into a near puree and add this the bowl as well. Stir in red pepper flakes and vinegar. Add any remaining garlic oil mixture. Taste and add salt if needed.
- Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and add it to the bowl with the eggplant tomato mix.
- Stir in half of grated parmesan and all of the cubed mozzarella. Serve, topping each portion with some of the remaining parmesan.