Eggplant Pasta for the absent minded


I loooove eggplant, but more times than not its a pain in the ass to cook. Unless you grill or roast eggplant, it gets mushy as you cook it. There is a fine line between cooked and turned-to-slime. I used to relegate eating eggplant to something I only ate when I ate out, until I saw Alton Brown do an episode on Good Eats totally dedicated to eggplant. After watching his episode I think I went out and bought a few medium-sized eggplants and went to town making his eggplant pasta recipe. It was amazing, until day 3 of leftovers when I realized too much of a good thing isn’t always fun.

The other day I got a hold of 4 large eggplants and I was too eager to make some eggplant pasta again, except when I looked over the recipe I didn’t have half the ingredients. I figured I’d just wing it and make my own variation of the recipe.

Before I jump into the recipe, I want to note that this recipe was inspired by Alton’s Brown’s eggplant pasta recipe, however this one was written by me, on the fly, and measurements are not accurate. If you are a cook that needs explicit step-by-step directions, please proceed with caution.  For those who are of the school of “toss it in the pot and YUM”, then enjoy and you’re welcome.  If anyone posts this recipe on their own blogs, please give me full credit. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large eggplant
  • About 1/4-cup vegetable oil
  • Lots and lots of salt, maybe a few tablespoons (not for cooking, so don’t worry about the volume)
  • 2 large garden fresh tomatoes (vine ripe is good too, just use more of them), peeled and diced
  • 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp of olive oil
  • Large pinch of dried basil (guessing 1/2-1 tbsp)
  • Pinch of thyme (guessing about 1 tsp)
  • Smidgen of cayenne pepper (1/2-1 tsp)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Peel the eggplant and slice length wise into 1/4″ sections. (In other words cut the eggplant the long way into planks, not into cute circles). Place onto a cooling rack fitted over a cookie sheet. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the eggplant slices.
  2. Let the eggplant slices sit covered in salt for about 30 mins to an hour if you can. The salt is to purge out the excess moisture in the eggplant. If you don’t do this, the eggplant will turn to much and slime as you cook it.  (To understand why I am telling you to do this, check out Alton Brown in this clip at the 7:45 min mark, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRvchIUm-QI). Trust me on this. In my first batch I didn’t let the slices sit long enough and I had a pan full of slime. It looked and felt very very gross.
  3. After 30 mins wash the eggplant slices, then sandwich between paper towels. This might sound crazy, but press out the water/moisture out of each slice. Its very important to make sure you rinse off the salt…no one likes a overly salty dish (yeah, can you tell who forgot to rinse off her eggplant, yeah.. learn from my mistakes people!)
  4. Once the eggplant slices are all rinsed and squeezed, cut each into 1/4″ strips.
  5. Heat saute pan, add oil, add eggplant strips. Saute until just tender (can’t remember how long this took, I fed the kids pizza and they ate about a slice each during this time… so like 10-15 mins?).  Remove the eggplant from the pan and place onto a cooling rack fitted over a cookie sheet to drain.
  6. Get rid of oil in saute pan and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add minced garlic and diced tomatoes. Saute the tomatoes for about 10-mins or so (I was cleaning up the after math of the kids pizza-fest while I did this step).
  7. Add in the cooked eggplant, the basil, thyme, and cayenne pepper. If you washed your eggplant, go ahead and add about 1/4-tsp of salt. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 5 mins (I emptied the dishwasher while doing this step).
  8. Serve over nice linguine or thick pasta. Top with parmesean cheese. Enjoy!
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