7.04.2010

A Very Ugly Pasta Sauce


I kid you not. It's made with eggplant and it's gray, soggy and really boring looking.

But remember that old adage: don't let appearances fool you. You cook this eggplant in olive oil with some garlic and a little stock and then mash it into a sauce. And OMG, the flavor! Silky, garlicky, eggplanty and luscious with oil. You add a bit of fresh basil, salt, pepper and dried tomatoes at the end just to brighten things up. I gobbled it down before even thinking of grating some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, but you can if you insist.

I'm ahead of the game because I really LIKE eggplant. But a lot of people don't. This particular recipe came from food writer Francis Lam who wasn't an eggplant fan either and, in his own inimitable way, had this to say about eggplant:

"It’s not always easy to deal with eggplant. It’s a fussy creature, finicky and unpredictable. It can be horrifyingly bitter if you get it when it’s overmature and seedy. It can soak up grease with the gusto of a ShamWow. But the oily, gray, lifeless, and utterly delicious eggplant I had at a neighborhood place in Rome inspired me to rethink my treatment and relationship with the stuff. Why fight the eggplant and try to get neat, seared cubes? Let it be what it wants to be! Let it turn to mush!"

So he's a convert...and you will be too after you make this very simple Italian peasant dish.

Pasta with Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Sauce
Recipe from
HERE and HERE
.


Ingredients:
1 pound eggplant, cut into ½ inch slices, leave the skin on
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
2 springs thyme, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons sun-dried or oven-dried tomatoes*, minced
6 leaves basil, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1 pound spaghetti

Method:
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 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.  Serve immediately.
Serves 3 or 4.

*I used some left over roasted tomatoes I'd had for lunch. Never made oven roasted tomatoes? Here's how. Easy peasy.

Take 12 plum tomatoes, cut them in half and remove most of the seeds. Place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, some minced garlic, some balsalmic vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar. Bake in a 275° oven for about 2 hours. Cool.

And the salad I had for lunch? I made it with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil  and these delicious roasted tomatoes with a bit more balsamic and EVOO on top. Yum.

68 comments:

  1. It's true, eggplant is not the most photogenic of vegetables. But I love it any (true love goes more than skin deep). This looks like one tasty pasta dish!

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  2. Barbara, I so wish I could get my husband to like eggplant. Everyone else in his family loves it. Oh well, as they say.

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful 4th of July.
    Sam

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  3. Hahha I love the ShamWOW analogy - so true!

    And I love eggplant, and so would love this.

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  4. It looks fine to me! I bet this is quite a flavourful meal too. A great diet recipe for all. Thanks for sharing, Barbara. Hope you're having a great weekend.
    Regards, Kristy

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  5. Not really ugly... Surely delicious, yummy!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. Oh, how I love eggplant... I'll definitely be giving this a try soon - maybe Monday night.

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  7. I never got eggplant cooked this way to look pretty either. I'll always embellish my dish the way I would go about camouflaging the extra pounds on my hips;o)...same principal...is it not?
    The ingredients in your recipe sound delicious!!!

    Have a great celebratory day,
    Claudia

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  8. It actually looks really delicious Barbara! I love aubergine and eat it a lot. Happy 4th July to all your American readers x

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  9. I don't think it is ugly, Barbara!! I think it looks pretty tasty!!!

    MMMMMMMMM,..I love aubergines in a sauce!!

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  10. Barbara, we love eggplant. This sounds so good. I really want to try this. Thanks.

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  11. Ok, I agree. Cooked eggplant is not pretty. One of my favorite ravioli mixes is eggplant, ricotta, sun dried tomato,shallots, basil and garlic. It looks like dog food before you put it in it's little case but boy is it good. Yours sounds delicious and you know, once it's on the pasta it looks great too!!! Happy 4th, lovely Barbara!!

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  12. We are going to deep fry some in an upcoming contest..

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  13. I dont care what you do to eggplant - I still love it... would love to try some ugly sauce!

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  14. I love eggplant n I dont think it looks bad at all...very delicious looking I have to say. I can imagine how tasty it is. It really looks yum to me. You shd see what my food looks like sometimes...the ones I dont post!

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  15. Freeing the eggplant to be itself sounds great! I like eggplant too, and the flavor of this sauce sounds delicious to me.

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  16. Hey Barbara, this sounds like one of those odd or like you said 'ugly' dishes that is served to you in a small trattoria in Italy or cafe in Spain. You know, one looks at it like 'what?' and then the taste...Yum! Doesn't matter how it looks b/c it's just good! Rustic food like this is always the best to me...

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  17. I really like eggplant too! The thought of that "mush" on my spaghetti is driving me wild and I don't particularly care for pasta. I may have just discovered my meal for Macaroni Day; July 7th!!!

    Thanks for sharing, Barbara...

    Happy Independence Day!!!

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  18. you make me hungry,
    what cute food...

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  19. http://itistimetothinkformyself.blogspot.com/2010/07/jingles-july-follower-awards-happy-4th.html

    some awards,
    please take 2 to 5 and enjoy!

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  20. Hah! Another example of how not everything we love looks like a beauty queen. ;)

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  21. Like you, I'm an eggplant fan, so this sounds utterly delicious. I once ate something quite similar at our local Italian place, and the chef had crumbled a soft white cheese (I'm guessing some sort of goat's cheese) through the pasta as well, it was divine.

    Hope you had a great holiday weekend :)

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  22. I'll take ugly any day if it tastes this good.

    xo

    Nisrine

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  23. I don't get fooled by the look! Eggplant always turn into a strange and unappealing color but are always wonderful, that is a great recipe especially with all those herbs!

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  24. Hi Barbara,

    I enjoy eggplant and always looking for ways to cook it, so thank you for sharing the recipe.

    I hope that you have had a lovely 4th of July holiday.
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  25. Guess who has an eggplant laying around with no place to go. I think it found its home.

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  26. thank goodness looks aren't everything, or there would be many, many delicious foods that i would never have tried. i think this sounds great, barbara, and it makes me wish we had planted some of those big, beautiful, purple veggies in our garden this year!

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  27. I'm laughing at the Sham-Wow remark! How true! The sauce ain't a looker, that's for sure, but it sounds delicious!

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  28. And they start out as such a pretty veg! But it just doesn't matter how the end product looks, I absolutely LOVE eggplant - in any form!

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  29. Some things just dont photograph well. One of my favorite dishes is a Indian daal recipe (a lentil dish) and to be honest, it looks like, as the English say, "the dog's diner". I haven't blogged it yet for that reason.
    I love eggplant, so i know this would taste great, plus if you say its good, i know it is :D
    Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July!
    *kisses* HH

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  30. Some things just dont photograph well. One of my favorite dishes is a Indian daal recipe (a lentil dish) and to be honest, it looks like, as the English say, "the dog's diner". I haven't blogged it yet for that reason.
    I love eggplant, so i know this would taste great, plus if you say its good, i know it is :D
    Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July!
    *kisses* HH

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  31. oh wow love pasta like this make it all the time and it looks good to me lol

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  32. I think your pasta looks wonderful, but I'm an avid eggplant fan so love almost any recipe for it. Looking forward to trying this soon.

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  33. With your description of this sauce who could resist? I am trying as soon as I can get my hands on some good eggplant. The pasta looks great!

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  34. I just adore eggplant and I can't wait to try this! Looks beautiful to me! I'll also enjoy looking around your beautiful blog!

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  35. Barbara

    Luckily we get eggplants from our garden almost daily here and love them as all Lebanese do; since my dad is from Italian ancestry he loves pasta and this is giving me a great idea, combining the pasta and our beloved eggplant, yeah! Mille grazie

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  36. I think it looks absolutely delicious!

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  37. There are some things that taste phenomenal but just aren't photogenic. That being said, I think this picture looks great. And I absolutely love eggplant so this dish is a real winner for me.

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  38. I think it looks great...I know what you mean, though, about eggplant...but this sounds delicious!

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  39. with those ingredients, I'm sure it's delicious!

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  40. Barbara, I am just getting there with eggplant. My DIL made a great eggplant ragu for Quinoa and I love it. Thank you for the info on Paris restaurants. i could not email you for whatever reason, but if you get the time, I would love all of your daughters suggestions on restaurants in Paris. My email is pennyklett@gmail.com. You have been a big help and I will check out the hotel you suggested. My best, Penny

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  41. This doesn't look so bad! I am not a fan of eggplant unless it is baba ganoush. I guess I should try harder!

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  42. I beg to disagree-that actually looks delicious. And I happen to love eggplant too but haven't really had it with pasta unless it was a caponata so this is really interesting!

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  43. The finished product looks DELICIOUS. I can almost taste it on the noodles

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  44. I love the texture of eggplant in pasta--this sauce looks seriously delicious to me!

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  45. I think it looks really good. Eggplant has never been a favorite of mine because of the texture, but every so often someone will slip it into a dish and I'll enjoy eating it. It's all about how it's prepared. I like the idea of mashing it up.

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  46. I have no strong feelings one way or the other about eggplant and am willing to approach this with an open mind. I really am curious to see how these flavors meld with each other and the pasta. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Maryw

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  47. Your "very ugly pasta sauce" looks beautifully delicious! Can't wait to try it since it has all the ingredients we love.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  48. Eggplant is definitely not pretty, but I love it anyway! Actually it took me a while to love it...I hated it as a kid, but I definitely think it is one of those veggies that grows on you. I love it with pasta dishes like this!

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  49. This sounds delicious to me. I love eggplant! Too bad my husband doesn't. Although I guess that just means if I made this, I could eat the whole thing.

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  50. Pasta alla Norma! It's a specialty from Sicily!

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  51. I love eggplant. This may not be pretty but it sounds utterly delish!

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  52. There is nothing unattrative about eggplant and pasta...but then again, love is blind.
    This looks delicious. :D

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  53. Your title is so funny :-) The pasta does not look so ugly... and I am sure is taste yummie!

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  54. I love eggplant in my pasta sauce. It beats out meat for me and makes use of garden fresh produce.

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  55. Haven't you ever heard that song about how "Everything is beautiful, in it's own way"? (Or does that really tell how old I am?) Before you cook eggplant, it's a feast for your eyes. After, however, it's a feast for your tastebuds! This pasta dish looks and sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing it :)

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  56. Hi Barbara,
    I can't wait to try this. We grow a lot of eggplant and I am always looking for a new way to prepare it. I will also give your tomato roasting recipe a try too.
    Thanks for some new recipes that I can make from my garden!
    Hope its not too hot down there, we are hitting 100
    xoxo

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  57. Happy Wednesday,
    love the food...

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  58. We are not an eggplant family but I may be able to pull this one off..I think it looks amazing. xoxoxo

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  59. Hi Barbara
    I just emailed you the link to the recipe if you don't get it let me know and I'll try again
    I hope you like it. I think I'm making your eggplant recipe for dinner tonight.
    Bunny

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  60. Your blog is full of great recipes! If you ever want to make a cookbook, I would love to help!
    www.platteproductionspublishing.com

    Sally Ford

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  61. It really made my day what you said about my Tell me A Tale post. Thanks.

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  62. Ugly food is often the best ;)

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  63. Your right. The last picture is, well, not as visually appealing as some, but MAN does it sound good!!! I cant wait to try it... so way to go on the descriptive part... you get a A+!~


    Blessings-
    Amanda

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  64. I'm not a big Team Eggplant person either but if you say it has made a convert out of your hubby I will have to try this recipe!

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  65. I've enjoyed this dish before and I love the eggplant "cream" that surrounds the pasta. Eggplant is such a wonderful medium to bind all of those great Mediterranean flavors. I'm looking forward to trying this recipe, and I hope many more people try it.

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  66. Mmm this pasta looks delicious! Yummy!

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  67. Oh my GOSH, I MUST try this! I love the texture of sauteed eggplants. And garlic! Mmmmmmmmm. That sauce looks delicious.

    It's so true about the eggplant's grease-sucking-ness. We should put that into the Gulf, don't you think?

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