Our CSA from the Evergreen Organic Farm overflowed with eggplant and tomatoes this week, so I went in search of inspiration. I found it, as I so often do, with the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.
I substituted my bounty of fresh tomatoes for her canned, though I’ll definitely try this dish again during the off season, and I’m sure canned tomatoes will also be fantastic. After all, the Pioneer Woman has never steered me wrong.
Eggplant and tomato pasta, adapted from the Pioneer Woman
1 pound corkscrew pasta
2 medium eggplants
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and diced
1-2 Tbsp. butter
fresh basil, chopped
salt And pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste
Pre-prep, to be done before you start the pasta:
Bring a pot of water to a simmer and drop in each tomato, cored and with an “X” carved lightly into the bottom of each. Remove from the water after a minute or so, when the peel begins to curl up. Remove skin, cool tomatoes slightly, remove the seeds, then chop into a rough dice.
Slice eggplant and place in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and let set for 20 minutes. Before turning each piece over and repeating with salt on the second side for another 20 minutes, use paper towel to pat slices dry.
Once both sides have been salted and patted dry, rinse well and pat them again. Cube eggplants slices into 1-inch pieces.
(This step may seem unnecessary, but it really does make the eggplant fantastic, with no trace of bitterness.)
Now, onto the noodles. Put a large pot of water on to boil, and then make yourself busy preparing the sauce. Cook pasta according to package directions.
Grab your largest skillet and heat a couple turns of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic, then cook for a few minutes, until soft. Take care not to burn the garlic.
Add diced eggplant and cook until tender and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add freshly diced tomatoes and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper, add a tablespoon or two of butter, and then simmer for 5-10 minutes more.
Add chopped basil (save a bit for garnish) right before the cooked and drained pasta takes a dunk in this glorious red sauce. Toss well, stirring in Parmesan cheese to finish.