Last week I saw this great article in the New York Times that is essentially an ode to the eggplant. It made me super happy because, as I like to tell people, I have never met an eggplant that I didn’t like. Eggplants are delicious and versatile. You can use them as a substantial centerpiece of a dish, or you could blend them up to make a creamy, delicious appetizer. They do well on the stovetop, in the oven, and over the open flame of a grill. Really, eggplant belongs just about everywhere.
When I read this article, I remembered that it’s eggplant season now, and I should really be taking advantage of that. So that very day, on my way home from work, I stopped and picked up some eggplant. I looked up some recipes and settled on what seemed like a light and simple one, then I called up some girlfriends and invited them over for dinner. It was exactly the way I want to spend my summer nights (though I wish it hadn’t been raining, so that we could have eaten outside. Oh well).
This dish is basically summer in a bowl. The eggplant and tomatoes blend together beautifully, and the fresh basil (from my herb garden!) compliments them well. I threw in some cannelini beans for a protein boost, and poured the whole thing over some whole wheat pasta. The meal was rounded out by a simple arugula salad, a glass of wine, and some frozen yogurt for dessert. Simply the perfect summer meal.
Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 plum tomatoes, diced
1 cup chopped pitted green olives
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
4 teaspoons capers, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, (more or less to taste)
1.5 cups (or 1 can) cooked cannellini beans
1 box whole-wheat pasta (I used spaghetti)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sautee the onions until they begin to sweat, then add in the eggplant. Stirring occasionally, cook until the eggplant begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
3. Add in the garlic and stir. Allow to cook for up to one minute, but do not let the garlic burn. Then add in the tomatoes, capers, olives, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down, stirring occasionally. It should take up to 10 minutes. Then stir in the beans and basil and allow the beans to heat through, and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. While waiting for the tomatoes to break down, cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain.
5. Divide the pasta into 8 bowls, and spoon the eggplant pomodoro over the top. Garnish with extra basil, as desire, and serve hot or room temperature.