This dish could also be called “what you make and serve with lots of wine when you realize both you and your husband have forgotten your own wedding anniversary.” True story.
Not that it happened to me or anything.
So, should you find yourself forgetting a very important event and needing to impress, atone, and accompany a good bottle of wine with something delicious, this is what you want to be making. Plus, with the impressive amount of garlic that goes into this recipe (it mellows out, I swear), you’ll want to spend time with no one but a near and dear one, love of your life or not–if for no other reason than you’ll both share the memory (and garlic haze) of this dish, and no one else will.
As usual: don’t sweat the quantities. I don’t.
Go hunt and gather:
- 6 cups eggplant (about two medium beasts), cubed into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes (bigger is fine, but I prefer it small so I can get eggplant in every bite) and peeled if you want (I peel about half of it)
- 4 cups tomatoes, diced (or two 14-oz cans of tomatoes, diced)
- 8 cloves-1 head of garlic, minced or bashed in a mortar and pestle
- 1-2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 box chunky-shaped pasta (I like farfalle best)
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese (or bocconcini, or a piece of a bigger log of fresh mozzarella)
- 1-2 Tbsp. parsley, minced (to taste)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, sliced or cut into long thin strips
- Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
Now don the apron and get your cook on:
- Set a large soup or pasta pot of salted water to boil.
- While the water comes to the boil, mix the eggplant cubes with the egg until coated. I usually start with one egg and add another if it needs more coating.
- Heat 1/2 Tbsp. of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot but not smoking, add enough eggplant to cover the pan and let it sit and crisp for a couple of minutes.
- Once it’s crisp, turn and allow to cook on the other side, then remove to a plate or cookie sheet lined with paper towel and giving it a sprinkle of salt. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant.
- Now here comes the rest of the multi-tasking, with the making of the sauce: while the water is coming to the boil and the eggplant is frying, heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a saucepan.
- Add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes, but don’t let it color too much. Then add the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper (red and black) to taste.
- Cover and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes have broken up a bit and all the flavors have melded.
- When the water comes to the boil, add your pasta and cook according to the package’s instructions. When it’s ready, reserve a cup of the boiling water and drain, then put the pasta back in the big pot.
- Add the sauce and toss, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if needed. Then toss with the eggplant.
- Top with generous slivers of basil and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Serve with wine and contrition and eat with abandon–after all, it’s not every day you forget your own wedding anniversary.