pasta with eggplant
ok, We just had an excellent dish of this type at Latteria San Marco in Milan which I replicated successfully at home last week.
(1) I used some slim eggplant to avoid the salting and skinning steps. Cut into slices, I grilled the eggplant on a lightly-oiled grill pan until mostly cooked.. this keeps the oil absorption down, I then cut a few of the grilled slices into pieces for the pasta (the remainder were desited fo be used for another purpose.) These I sauteed briefly in a bit of olive oill to finish them, setting them aside on paper towel until needed.
(2) I made a a simple tomato sauce with a spoon of olive oil, a garlic clove, lightly csauteed til golden, not brown, then adding a can of chopped tomatoes, these were mashed and cooked until the oil came out out and the sauce thickens (maybe 15 min), season.
(3) cook pasta til al dente (I used rigatone)
(4) assemble dish, to cooked pasta, ad sauce to taste,frieed eggplant pieces,a handful of torn fresh basil leaves and a couple large spoonfuls of good quality fresh whole milk ricotta cheese to taste., stir adjust seasoning and serve, with some added ricotta on top.
Alternatively you can use fresh mozzarella for the cheese - they make a dish like this in Campania called [name of pasta shape] aum aum. Sample recipe below.
Like Florenceinsider says, the sicilians call this simple dish pasta alla norma and make it with dried salted ricotta (ricotta salata) Here is an anternative recipe http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...
.this is probably just scratching the surface of possibilities
Latteria San Marco
Via San Marco 24, Milan, Lombardia , IT
re: jen kalb
Jen, the ricotta is a super addition. Eggplant also enhances any baked pasta dish (there's a Sicilian pasta 'ncasciata with fried slices in it). You can take slices or cubes, fry or grill them, then mix with al dente cooked rigatoni or ziti, plain tomato sauce, cubes of mozzarella (some dollops of ricotta too), grated pecorino. Pack all this mixed together into a gratin dish/casserole, top with more sauce and grated pecorino, and cook at 400 degrees for, say, 25 minites until bubbling and browned. Let cool. Enjoy. (You can also add small meatballs into the dish, too).
Daniela del Balzo, who conducts a cooking class for Context, has wonderful recipe. Its Neapolitan but D is based in Rome so... Receipe has the eggplant made as "boats" but I prefer to let sit a day, then chop the mixture up, reheat and serve atop penne:
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Cut 4 eggplants in half, scoop out inside, chop the inside meat, brush shells with olive oil. Saute 3 garlic cloves chopped + capers + 1 can of diced tomatoes, black olives pitted and chopped and chopped fresh basil. Add salt & pepper - NO SUGAR! Add pine nuts just before filling shells. Place eggplant shelves on cookie sheet and fill with the sauteed mixture. Drizzle with olive oil & cook @ 350 F for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with grated parm cheese.
Far more delicious the day after the mixture has cooked. You can also make a sandwich by placing the mixture between fresh Italian bread with some mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. Delicioso!
Pasta with eggplant is very popular in Sicily (Pasta alla Norma). Here is a very quick and easy recipe that I make for my husband- we usually use penne since he likes it, but you can use rigatoni, spaghetti, etc. For 2 people:
1 large eggplant (chopped). I usually rub the pieces with rock salt and let the eggplant "bleed"
FYI: here in Italy, Romans believed eggplants were poison apples). Salt forces the brownish liquid out of the eggplant and makes them easier to digest. Rinse the salt off after 1-2 hours and then they are ready to use.
Saute chopped onion and garlic, add the eggplant cubes. Saute for a few minutes and then add chopped tomatoes (5-6 vine ripe tomatoes). Add a bullion cube and extra salt and pepper if needed. Add a teaspoon sugar. When the tomatoes begin to liquefy, add a handful of chopped, fresh basil. Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce a bit to thicken. Toss with pasta and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesean.
Serve with a good red (here in Tuscany, we drink Chianti).
Here is my foolproof kitchen rule when it comes to bullion cubes: when in doubt, always use vegetable. I keep extra stock on hand (in addition to beef, poultry, seafood, etc).
Beef or chicken would also work. Let me know how it turns out, ok? I worked in Sicily for a bit and ate many variations of this recipe. It's so good :)