While in Greece this summer, I learned to love a few “new” foods, including olives, octopus, and eggplant. These are all things that I had tried before and not had much of an opinion of – in fact, a few weeks before we left I silently judged a stranger at the grocery store for loading up on eggplant (I know, I am really friendly).
The game-changer for me was a delicious dish of eggplant, red pepper, and potatoes baked in a tomato sauce. The vegetables were tender and had all absorbed the flavor of the sauce and seasonings – I was smitten.
This pasta is a take on the baked vegetable dish that I enjoyed so much while abroad. Eggplant and tomato sauce, I have discovered, is a winning combination and perfect for this time of year when you want a cozy (yet healthy) meal.
Pasta with Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Tomato
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces rigatoni (de Cecco is my favorite)
splash of white or red wine
1 cup peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven (or large pot) and add eggplant. Sautee until brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
2. In same pot, add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium. Add onion and large pinch of Kosher salt and slowly cook, stirring often, for 30-40 minutes until onions are nicely caramelized (It’s okay to add a splash of water if the onions start to brown too quickly).
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente in salted water.
4. Deglaze pan with a splash of wine. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, and then add eggplant, tomatoes, and broth to pan. Simmer until broth has reduced and tomatoes are beginning to break down, about 15 minutes.
5. Add pasta to sauce and toss to coat. Spoon into serving dishes and generously garnish with basil.