Eggplant parmesan is definitely an old standby, but it can be really heavy and greasy with globs of cheese and fried eggplant slices leaving you feeling pretty weighed down afterwards. This meal was another discovery from How to Cook Everything, and I chose to make it because I really haven’t cooked with eggplant in years so I figured I’d give it a shot. It turned out to be a deconstructed eggplant parm, minus the cheese, and was quite tasty.
I started off by making fresh breadcrumbs. I used a few day old loaf of Italian bread and in my mini food processor, coarsely ground chunks of bread to equal about a cup of bread crumbs. I put a large pot of salted water to boil on one burner and on the other, I heated 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Once it was hot, I added the breadcrumbs, along with a little salt, freshly ground black pepper, and garlic powder, and cooked them until they were crispy and brown. I removed them from the skillet into a bowl and added another 1/4 cup of olive oil to the same skillet.
By this time the water was boiling so I added a pound of linguine and cooked it for 10 minutes, then drained it. In the meantime, I cooked about a pound of eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes, in the skillet until it was soft and browned, about 10 minutes. I added salt and black pepper to taste. I then added 3 plum tomatoes, which I had seeded and cored, and cut into small pieces and thin slivers from a large clove of garlic. When the tomatoes were softened, about another 5-8 minutes, I added 1/4 cup worth of thinly sliced fresh basil. I combined the linguine, the eggplant mixture, and the breadcrumbs, added a bit more salt and freshly ground pepper, and served dinner, garnished with more basil, and with garlic bread on the side.
It was huge success. It tasted as good as eggplant parmesan, without the grease, and the combination of flavors is one of my favorites. Continually checking the seasoning and adding salt and pepper throughout the cooking process was a worthwhile effort to get the flavor right. I do think some fresh mozzarella would have been a tasty match for this dish. This is a good meal for entertaining since most people seem to like eggplant parmesan, and definitely a meal I will add to our rotation.
Pasta with Eggplant and Tomatoes (adapted from How to Cook Everything)
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup coarsely ground bread crumbs
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-1 inch chunks
1 pound tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-1 inch chunks
1 large clove thinly sliced garlic
1 pound linguine, spaghetti, or other long pasta
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil, plus more for garnish
1. Prepare the bread crumbs, eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot and cook per package directions, until it is done, then drain.
3. While the water is boiling, place 1/4 cup olive oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the bread crumbs and cooked, stirring frequently, until toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Once browned, remove from the skillet and place into a bowl, then set aside.
4. Add the other 1/4 cup olive oil to the skillet, then cook the eggplant, stirring from time to time and seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste, until it is browned and tender, about 10-15 minutes. When the eggplant is ready, add the the tomatoes and garlic and cook until softened, 8-10 minutes, the stir in the basil until just wilted.
5. Toss the cooked pasta with the eggplant mixture, then stir in the breadcrumbs. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Could consider adding some fresh mozzarella at this point too.