a home cook with notions & an appetite
I live in a house divided. I think we all do. For us, eggplant and peas are at the top of the divide. He loves peas, I do not. I love eggplant, he does not. There are occasions where the two of us are willing to set aside our “do nots” and take a culinary bullet for the other’s enjoyment. It was time for eggplant.
The stand we went to at the farmer’s market had eggplants for a dollar. Beautiful eggplants for a dollar. And our garden had finally had a few tomatoes survive the urban deer invasion. Sure, I could have gone the classic eggplant parmesan route, but I always feel like that’s a lot heavier than it should be. Thanks to a Christmas gift from Aunt C last year, I remember that Eating Well exists and check their website and find a recipe for Eggplant Pomodoro. Color me intrigued.
The ingredients are easy:
I made some changes to the original recipe. Originally, chopped green olives and capers were called for, but I just upped the amount of capers, as I had those on hand (cash-saving hint: your mega-mart sells capers for significantly less in the ethnic section with the rest of their Hispanic products). Briney goodness is briney goodness, after all. I also cut back on the tomatoes, as mine were rather large. Lastly, the original recipe called for whole-wheat pasta and I had semolina angel-hair on-hand. (I’ve learned that storing whole-wheat pasta for any length of time can lead to those pesky bugs that eat said pasta before one has a chance to cook it – no one’s fault but nature’s.)
Preparation involves a lot of chopping, but easy enough if you remember to sharpen your knife first. Dicing eggplant is very straightforward after washing the outsides; cut into strips and slice again into 1/2-inch chunks. The tomatoes will dice nearly the same way, only messier. Corgies love tomato pieces, they do not love eggplant pieces. (It’s important to know these things.)
I have a pot of water boiling on the stove for the angel hair pasta (it takes far less time to cook than spaghetti). Getting that out of the way, 2 tablespoons of olive oil go in a pan over medium heat and the eggplant is cooked for 5 minutes. I can’t stress how tempting it is to cut back on the oil with eggplant, but it does soak up oil fast and doesn’t like to behave in a non-stick manner. Besides, olive oil is good for you. I added the tomatoes and garlic at the same time because I wanted the tomatoes to be soft and cooked them for about a minute. After that, it was the rest of the ingredients – the capers, vinegar, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper – where they could cook for five minutes more. This was long enough for the angel hair pasta to cook and be drained for serving.
This is a briney and spicy sauce (thanks to the red pepper flakes) that tastes substantial thanks to the eggplant. Husband didn’t even mind it so much and that speaks volumes.