There was a saying that every Israeli housewife knew how to make eggplant 100 different ways. Most though, probably don’t know its botanical definition is a berry. Its origins are unknown, but it was cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory. We also know it because of its popularity throughout the Mediterranean since the Middle Ages. Raw, it is 92 percent water, 6 percent carbs and 1 percent protein. Some historians believe pasta originated in Italy, but most are convinced Marco Polo actually brought it back from his epic voyage to China.
Try these combinations of pasta and eggplant for meatless summer meals.
Penne With Eggplant and Olive Sauce
This came from an American food magazine, no name or date.
- 1 28 ounce can undrained plum tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups of 1 inch cubed eggplant
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2/3 cup green olives
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 pound penne (tube-shaped pasta)
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Place tomatoes with juice in food processor and pulse until tomatoes are chopped with some texture.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan until hot. Add eggplant and cook 5-7 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
3. Add 1 tablespoon oil to frying pan and cook onions 3-5 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Add garlic and red pepper and cook 30-60 seconds. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add eggplant, olives, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender and sauce has thickened. Stir in parsley.
4. Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions, drain, place in warm bowl, toss with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
Linguine With Ratatouille Sauce
This came from Food & Wine magazine in 1998 with a few of my changes.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 thinly-sliced onion
- 1 diced green or red pepper
- 1½-pound ½-inch diced eggplant
- 1½-pound ½-inch diced zucchini
- 3 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 ⅔ cups canned, crushed tomatoes in thick puree
- 2 teaspoons wine vinegar
- ¾ pound linguine
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons thinly-sliced basil leaves
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add oil and red or green pepper and cook 5 minutes until onion is translucent. Add eggplant, zucchini and garlic. Reduce heat, cover and cook 15 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, cover and simmer 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in vinegar.
3. Cook linguine in a pot of boiling salted water 12 minutes. Reserve ½ cup cooking water. Drain and toss with the vegetables and ½ cup basil. If it looks dry, add some of the cooking water. Top with 2 tablespoons basil and serve.
Ziti, Eggplant and Cheese
This came from a Food & Wine column with my changes.
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ¾-pound eggplant peeled, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 pound ziti or penne
- 2 cups kosher gruyere or havarti cheese
1. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan. Add eggplant and cook 10-15 minutes until eggplant is soft. Stir in garlic and parsley. Cook 3 minutes longer.
2. Heat the broiler. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water 10-15 minutes. Drain.
3. Toss pasta with eggplant and 3 tablespoons oil. Add cheese and toss again. Transfer pasta to a shallow baking dish. Broil 2-3 minutes until cheese melts and starts to brown.
Sybil Kaplan is a Jerusalem-based journalist, author and compiler/editor of nine kosher cookbooks. She is a food writer for North American Jewish publications and leads walks of the Jewish food market, Machaneh Yehudah, in English.