Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Febraury 8: Pasta with Roasted Eggplant Sauce and Ricotta Salata

2 small, firm eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, cracked from the skins
1 pound penne rigate pasta
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano or other variety canned plum tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn
2 cups ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a large pot of water on to boil.

Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet. Pour about 1/2 cup EVOO into a dish. Brush the eggplant lightly with the EVOO. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper. Add the garlic to the cookie sheet and dab it with EVOO as well.

Roast for 20 minutes or until both the garlic and the eggplant are tender.

When the water comes to a boil, salt it leberally and add the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente, with a bite to it.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining EVOO and the onions and cook for 5 minutes.

Place the cooked eggplant and the garlic in a food processor and process it into a smooth paste.

Add the eggplant paste to the cooked onions then stir in the crushed tomatoes.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Toss with the drained hot pasta and the shredded or torn basil.

Top the pasta with lots of crumbled ricotta salata.

6 SERVINGS


Here are some changes I made to this recipe: I did not use the called-for amount of oil to brush the eggplant, so I changed it from 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons to just 1/2 cup. I used the leftover oil for cooking the onions. I used regular crushed tomatoes. I don't know if that made a difference, but I couldn't find crushed plum tomatoes.

I used ricotta instead of ricotta salata. I didn't know what kind of cheese to used in place of it, but I did try to order some from the grocery store. It was going to be almost $12 a pound for a 5 pound wheel of it. I said "no thanks." I wasn't going to pay $60 for cheese. Anyway, if you can find it and try it, let me know how it tastes.

This dish is pretty good, but a little tomatoey. I think it drowns out the flavor of the eggplant. My husband wanted to try it with parmesan cheese. We'll do that for lunch today.

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