Sicilian Pasta with Eggplant and Tomatoes is meatless, satisfying, and easy enough to make for weeknight dinner.
Last week, I shared a meatless pasta dish I had for lunch and promised you the recipe. You see, I always cook with ingredients James and I both like – beef, carrots, coconut milk, chiles – but on evenings when he is working night shifts or is out of town, I turn to dishes that are chock-full of ingredients that I love but he wouldn’t necessarily prefer to eat ;) Which basically means most vegetables, cream cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and briny pickled things.
Eggplant plays the starring role of this dish, which I happen to love, and James would rather…not. He has about five vegetables in his repertoire (of course carrot is on that list). Or at least he did… until I intervened! But I still can’t get him to eat eggplants. It’s the texture, he says.
But if you’re like me and just love the tender, meltingly soft texture, and the way eggplants tend to pick up flavors from whatever they are simmered in, then this is the recipe for you! Eggplant cubes are sautéed with garlic until golden brown, then simmered in a light tomato sauce with salty capers, and tossed with whole wheat pasta. This dish came together in minutes, which makes it a perfect weeknight meal.
For this recipe, I use globe eggplants which are known to have tough skins (unlike these little guys!) I don’t like to remove the skin entirely, so I just partially peel it in a striped fashion. Also, some recipes call for salting the eggplants before cooking to remove the bitterness, but I find that I usually don’t have problems with the bitterness as long as I stick with the smaller eggplants.
If you are worried, by all means sprinkle the eggplant cubes liberally with salt, let stand in a colander set over the sink for 30 minutes, then rinse off the salt and pat dry with a paper towel before cooking.
- 1 lb regular or whole wheat spaghetti
- 2 tbsps olive oil, divided
- 1 large eggplant, cut into ¾-inch chunks
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ lbs plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Ricotta salata or parmesan, for serving
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water; set aside.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant and turn as needed until browned on all sides; set aside.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet and cook onion and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, capers, oregano, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup reserved pasta water to skillet. Simmer uncovered on low, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Return eggplants to the skillet and simmer for additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss sauce with pasta and serve with cheese if desired.
*Recipe adapted from Serious Eats (http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/01/sicilian-style-pasta-with-eggplant-tomatoes-ricotta-salata-pasta-alla-norma-recipe.html)