Friday, September 2, 2011

Pasta with Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free Puree

So I was blog-stalking awhile ago (I think it was last summer, which is kind of amazing and depressing all at the same time) and found a whole bunch of interesting vegetarian recipes that I want to try.  First I saw the Vegetable Pie with Zucchini Crust on For the Love of Cooking.  Zucchini crust?  Sign me up!  I love zucchini.  Then I saw the Summertime Lasagna on Steamy Kitchen on TLC.  Fresh ricotta, basil and tomatoes in a pasta dish that doesn't need to bake for hours and heat up the apartment.  I'm sold.  Last, but certainly not least, I came across Francis Lam's Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Spaghetti on The Wednesday Chef.  I have to admit that I clicked on it more out of rampant curiosity because of the strange name, rather than out of any desire to make it.  And then I read the recipe (plus Francis Lam's post on the Gourmet website) and realized that I do in fact want to make the recipe.  Granted, it took me an entire year to get around to actually doing that, but such is life.  I had some eggplants from my CSA so I remembered about this recipe and decided that we should make it.  Seeing as both Alex and I made it home for a late lunch today (hurray for holiday weekends because no one bothers to come into the office), it was a perfect dish for a late light lunch.  The eggplant sauce had a ton of flavor, which I enjoyed, but it wasn't as much of a "sauce" as I was expecting.  The spaghetti kind of soaked up all of the eggplant juju and it definitely needed the extra drizzle of evoo and a little pasta water to loosen it all back up.  All in all, I thought it was a really nice vegetarian lunch when served with a simple arugula salad.  Have we made better vegetarian pastas?  Yes.  Just last month we made a vegetarian Pasta with Sun Gold Tomatoes that was absolutely delicious.  But was this pasta totally worthwhile?  Absolutely.

Recipe after the jump!

Spaghetti with Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Sauce
Available on

1 pound eggplant, cut into ½ inch slices
1/3 cup evoo
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
2 springs thyme or oregano, chopped
1 cup chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons sun-dried or oven-dried tomatoes, minced
6 leaves basil, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1 pound spaghetti (we used whole wheat)

Lightly salt the slices of eggplant, stack them back together and let sit for 20 minutes.

Put the olive oil in a wide, heavy saucepan, add the garlic cloves, and set over low heat.  Dry off the eggplant, cut it into chunks. When you start hearing the garlic sizzle a little and can smell it, drop in your eggplant and stir to coat it all with oil. Turn up the heat a little bit to medium high and add the thyme or oregano and stir. When the eggplant is turning translucent and softening, add the liquid, let it come to a boil, and turn it back down to medium-low. Let it bubble for a bit and cover it, leaving a crack for steam to escape. Stir once in a while so that the bottom doesn’t stick.  After about 20 minutes or so, the liquid in the eggplant pan should be mostly evaporated and the eggplant should be soft and melting. Mash it with a fork or spoon, and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Toss the eggplant purée with the spaghetti that you cooked al dente. Stir in the minced tomatoes and basil. You can gild the lily with drizzling on some more oil (which I would highly recommend). 

Serve immediately.

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