Saturday, August 20, 2011

Roasted Eggplant Tomato Sauce

Well then. It turns out moving can really take the poetry out of your culinary pursuits. In the last few weeks, we've been on a steady diet of BLTs, pizza, and takeout. I'm not saying I haven't enjoyed it, but I can't imagine that my BLT recipe really has a leg up on anyone else's. Hence the radio silence.

Last night, I figured it was time to tackle the kitchen for real - I would just ignore the right side of my stove where that scary southern griddle lay. This time of year, the markets are overflowing with all shapes and stripes of eggplants and tomatoes, so I turned to the second of my two tried-and-true eggplant recipes. (You can find the first here.)
I learned about this summertime beauty of a sauce over here, and since that initial read, I've done everything in my power to simplify what was already a pretty straightforward dish. You know, because it's the summer and who wants to spend the night in the kitchen. The result is barely a recipe, just a roasted and pureed mess of chopped eggplant, tomato, and garlic tossed with olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt. But, it is go-o-od. The trick is finding the right balance between eggplant and tomato - too much eggplant and you end up with more of a chunky salsa-style sauce. Too much tomato and you might as well skip the eggplant altogether, since you won't notice it. When you get it right - and for me, that's about equal parts eggplant and tomato - the eggplant contributes some heft and I feel like I'm eating a new twist on a classic meal.

Penne with Roasted Eggplant-Tomato Sauce
Adapted from smitten kitchen 
Serves 4

  • 1 eggplant, cut into small cubes
  • 8 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • Salt and red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • Chopped basil, toasted pinenuts, freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Toss the eggplant, tomato, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat. Spread out onto a baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes, until the eggplant is tender. When the vegetables are ready, puree them into a smooth sauce. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook your penne for 9-11 minutes. (The original recipe calls for rigatoni, but I always have penne on hand.) Drain your pasta, reserving some of the pasta water if your sauce has a chunkier consistency. Toss the sauce together with the pasta (and water, as necessary). Top with basil, toasted pinenuts, and freshly grated parmesan cheese (as you choose), and serve.

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