Food52 Genius Recipe #21 Pasta with Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Puree

 

I like eggplant and I like pasta, so combining them into one dish should be a winner right? I made a ton of eggplant over the summer because we grew Japanese eggplant for the first time. While I prefer mine lightly breaded and fried as part of eggplant parmesan with pasta or in sandwich form, I was interested in using it in a different way. This recipe starts you off slicing the eggplant into discs and then salting and letting it rest. This is done to draw out the moisture and cut some of the bitterness. From that, this turns into a pretty straightforward sauce recipe. After drying off and dicing the eggplant, garlic gets saut√©ed in olive oil and then the eggplant and some thyme or oregano gets added and stirred to coat. Once the eggplant starts to soften and turn translucent, a cup of any liquid (I used chicken stock) is added. While this mixture reduces for about 20 minutes, you have time to cook whatever long pasta noodle you like. 

Just before the pasta is ready, the recipe calls for you to mash up the eggplant with a spoon. I used an immersion blender to get it really smooth. Drain and toss the pasta with the eggplant sauce and then stir in basil and dried tomatoes before drizzling on a bit more olive oil. Finally, season to taste with salt and pepper. As an addition, I sprinkled some grated parmesan cheese, which this dish drastically needed. Eggplant doesn't have a really strong flavor, so we found ourselves searching for a punch of something. Even the dried tomatoes seemed to get lost, when normally they add some brightness and texture change. Maybe the subtle flavor and silken texture of the recipe is what the author was going for, but it fell flat for us. 

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