Monday, September 21, 2009

Eggplant Pasta!

Yesterday was Eggplant Pasta day! So far, this was the only recipe I was nervous to make because I have never worked with nor made anything using eggplant. My sister-in-law was the first to introduce me to this delicious vegetable, so who better to be our guests of honor than her, my brother and my nephew! We had to do a luncheon instead of dinner b/c Cris works nights, but it worked out PERFECT! As usual, the recipe started Saturday with a trip to Kroger. I did my research on eggplants and come to find out there are male and female eggplants. Here is a little education, when choosing your eggplant, if you decide to make this recipe or anything using eggplant for that matter. First you want to choose an eggplant with tight skin, no wrinkles or blemishes, the calyx (top hard part) is bright green and has a nice clean cut. Then if it's a little heavy in size and you press it with your finger and it bounces right back, that's a good start! BUT the bigger the pod is, the seedier it is, meaning the more bitter it will taste, so stick with the medium sized ones. Lastly, the difference between the female and male eggplant is the shape of the "belly-button" OR that top hard part (the calyx). The female has an oval "belly-button" and the male has a round "belly-button". It's best to try and get a male eggplant b/c they have fewer seeds and as stated above are less bitter. Anyway, moving right along to Sunday mornings preparation first things first was to get the eggplant peeled and purged. I had to look up what purging an eggplant meant...don't worry it's not some crazy eggplant bulimia diet! Basically you peel the eggplant (leaving about 1in of skin at the top and bottom) and then you slice it lengthwise into 1/4 inch layers and lay out on a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Then you take kosher salt and evenly sprinkle it on the eggplant and let the eggplant purge for about 30min. I did 30min, but would recommend doing about 45-1hr if you are patient enough. This removes all the juices from the eggplant (therefore making your sauce less runny, which I will get to shortly). Then you give them a quick rinse and paper towel them off before slicing them into fettuccini like pieces. OH YES, you were thinking pasta WITH eggplant weren't you?! OH NO, this was full out eggplant as the pasta, so cool! So after that you heat your oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in your skillet (I used a small stock pot b/c I doubled the recipe. If you know my brother, you know why) and heat up until the garlic is SLIGHTLY brown. I say this b/c while my garlic was heating up I was cutting the tomatoes and completely forgot about my garlic and BLACK garlic=nasty food. So we had a take 2 on the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Second time was a charm. Once it's heated up add your eggplant "pasta" and toss to coat it and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Then you add your diced tomatoes & heavy cream and increase your heat to let your sauce thicken. This bring me back to the purging of the sauce wasn't as thick as I wanted it to be so I improvised and added about 1 T of Corn starch and it made it a lot better! So being patient during the purge is definitely a must! Once your sauce is thick, throw in your fresh parmigiano reggiano and your chiffonade basil (chiffonade is just a fancy way to cut your basil into ribbons. Simply stack the leaves, roll them up together and cut) and WAHLAH you have Eggplant Pasta! I served the pasta with a fresh salad and toasted french bread. Scot, Cris, Kai and myself all LOVED it and had seconds. Adam on the otherhand almost took the literal meaning of purging an eggplant and just had salad and bread for lunch. He wasn't a fan of eggplant before so we expected that reaction from him! So this recipe definitely isn't for picky eaters! A big thanks to Scot, Cris and Kai for joining us for lunch and I hope you enjoy the leftovers!

Recipe Rating: Easy
Good Leftover: According to Scot, yes. BUT as he said he LOVES leftovers and eats them cold. So you'll have to be the judge on this one.
Tip: Patience is a virtue when purging eggplants! Leave yourself plenty of time for this process!
Stay tuned in 2 weeks- City Ham

You can find the Eggplant Pasta recipe here:

1 comment:

  1. Brittany, I am very impressed with your culinary courage! I am also scared of what your idea of a hard recipe would look like.