I still had four of those green bastards lurking in my house all this time. And they wouldn’t go bad, so I couldn’t justify throwing them away. But, thanks to neighbor Eli, I had a much more awesome plan for attacking them and turning them into food.
I cut Lam’s recipe in half except for the garlic. I heated some smashed garlic cloves in the skillet in a bunch of olive oil, and then added in the eggplant that I’d sliced and salted down the day before. I let it heat and become translucent, and then I added 1/2 cup of water and covered it to let the eggplant soften and the liquid reduce. Early stages of cooking smelled good, but did not look promising.
Visually, it got a little better when I stirred in the basil, sun-dried tomato, and 1/4 cup of the pasta water after I mashed the eggplant:
I drained the linguine, reserving the 1/4 cup of liquid to mix in with everything, which is not in the recipe but just a really good practice anytime you are making pasta. The hot starch-water stirred into the sauce makes the flavors combine really well and gives the sauce a silkier texture. I added a little olive oil to the drained pasta to keep it from sticking, and a little salt & pepper to make it taste good. And then I tossed it with the sauce:
Now we’re talking. I ate it with a little bit of fresh grated parmesan and a caprese salad.
The sauce is GREAT. This is a great recipe. It’s an inexpensive and quick weeknight dinner. It’s a “OH HAI, I am throwing together a little dinner party, can you stop by? Sure, bring a bottle of whatever red you have around,” dish. If you leave out the parmesan, it will even feed vegans.
However, I recommend you make it with a purple eggplant, or a white eggplant, or anything but green eggplant, because in the final product the green stuff still carries some sharp not-quite-ripe flavor. I think if I’d made it with purple eggplant I would be crying right now. They would be tears of joy, and also tears of feeling sick because I ate the whole pan.
Bonus Recipe: Insalata Caprese
- For every person, take 1 tomato, 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, and 2-3 leaves of fresh basil. Leave the cheese out for a little while while you cook the rest of the meal so that it comes closer to room temperature. You shouldn’t even be putting good fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator, so I won’t worry about that.
- Slice the tomato and the cheese.
- Layer: 1 slice of tomato, 1 slice of cheese, 1 leaf of basil…alternating until you run out of ingredients.
- Mix a few drops of balsamic vinegar and olive oil together with a little sea salt. Drizzle on salad.
This is an incredibly easy and obvious thing to make, and I can’t even really call it a recipe, except I’ll say that summer is the only time you want to eat this. Ingredients matter. You can’t dilly-dally with pale, weak grocery store tomatoes – don’t even bother. But right now? Yessssssss.