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Pasta with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Basil Perfect Meatless Meal

Eggplant from the Garden

Eggplant from the Garden

Round Purple Eggplant from Jungle Jims

Round Purple Eggplant from Jungle Jims

 

Black Magic/Common Eggplant from Jungle Jims

Black Magic/Common Eggplant from Jungle Jims

 

Talking today with Anna Mitchell on the Sonrise Morning show, Sacred Heart radio this morning was so fun, as usual. Annie was pumped about the recipe I’m sharing for a pasta with eggplant, tomatoes and basil. “Anything with tomatoes and basil gets me excited”, she said.

PASTA WITH EGGPLANT, TOMATOES AND BASIL

Jungle Jims International Grocery here in Cincinnati carries different kinds of eggplant. I go to their Eastgate store, which is close to where they live.

12 oz short pasta, boiled and kept warm (reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water after cooking)

1 eggplant, about 1-1/2#, peeled and diced and salted if you wish****

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes (or several nice garden tomatoes, chopped)

Fresh basil, chopped, to taste

Salt, Pepper and Parmesano Reggiano cheese

 

While pasta is cooking, film a sauté pan with olive oil. Stir in eggplant, onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until eggplant is tender. Cover if you like. Add tomatoes and cook until skin bursts. (If using whole chopped, just cook until tender). Add salt and pepper to taste – don’t be shy and if necessary, stir in reserved pasta water to make it saucy. Stir in basil. Serve with generous sprinkling of Parmesano Reggiano.

An ancient history

A bit of trivia about eggplant and it’s roots in the bible: it was grown in Southeast Asia 2000 years before Christ was even born. Some scholars believe it traveled to the Middle East via the ancient Silk Road. In the Mediterranean it was quickly incorporated into native cuisine.

Eggplant was prepared as an appetizer, probably like Baba Ganoosh, and it was stewed, as well.

Good for you

Eggplant is full of antioxidants, and it’s a heart healthy veggie, among other things.

****Why salt eggplant?

A lot of the newer eggplants are bred to be less bitter so no need to salt. To tenderize the flesh’s texture and reduce some of its naturally occurring bitter taste, you can sweat the eggplant by salting it. Sprinkle cut eggplant with salt and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes. Then rinse to get most of the salt off, and drain well. This process will pull out some of its water content and make it less permeable to absorbing any oil used in cooking.

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Sandra Reedy

    Hi Rita, Do I use the center of the eggplant or leave out the seeds? Do the tomatoes need skin removed? Also, do you ever use purple basil? I am just beginning to grow my own herbs so I am nit always sure how to use them. Thanks! sandra

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Sandra,
      I’d take out the seeds if they’re real big or brownish colored. Otherwise, leave them in. No need to skin the tomatoes. I love purple basil – it’s not as pungent as sweet common green basil, but it’s beautiful and yummy.
      Let me know how your dish turns out.
      Blessings,
      Rita

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