At the height of summer, when the markets are filled with Technicolor produce, pick out a plump purple eggplant and a few heirloom tomatos and make this sumptuous variation on ratatouille. This dish is simpler than the labor-intensive vegetable stew, but is still rich with roasted vegetables and herbs.
When shopping for eggplants, choose plump, glossy fruits without marks. The cap should be green, not dry and curled. A perfectly ripe eggplant will spring back when gently pressed. Eggplant may have a bitter taste, so begin this dish about an hour ahead to allow time to salt the fruit and draw out the bitterness.
This recipe is adapted from Francis Lam's Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Sauce
Eggplant and Tomato Spaghetti
Serves 3 generous portions
1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 tablespoon salt
3 ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs thyme or oregano, chopped
1 cup water
6 leaves basil, chiffonade
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti, cooked
1. Place the eggplant cubes in a sieve over a bowl and toss with salt. Let sit for a half hour to draw the bitter juices out of the eggplant. Meanwhile, peel and cut the tomatoes into chunks.
2. In a heavy saucepan such as a Dutch oven, pour in the olive oil and set over low heat. Add the garlic cloves.
3. Wipe any moisture off of the eggplant. When the garlic sizzles, add the eggplant and stir to coat it with oil. Turn up the heat, add the tomato and herbs and stir. When the eggplant and tomato soften, add the liquid, let it come to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot, leaving an edge exposed for steam to escape.
4. After about 20 minutes, the vegetables should be soft and melting and ready for the pasta. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve immediately with the pasta, garnished with additional basil.
See the links below for many more delicious eggplant recipes on Examiner!