Although I do love meat, I try to have a couple of meat-free days every week because vegetables are delicious too, not to mention it’s healthier. This recipe uses one of my favourite vegetables of all time: the glorious eggplant.
Back home in Egypt, we had an endless number of eggplant recipes and eggplants were abundant and cheap. When I moved away from Egypt, I discovered that eggplants can be shockingly expensive in some parts of the world.
This recipe, however, has very little to do with any traditional Egyptian eggplant recipes, and I’m proud to say, I kind of made it up myself. I’m sure there are many eggplant pasta recipes out there, but I decided to improvise and make up my own. If you want to add something new, you could always try adding some mushrooms, roast sweet peppers, roast cherry tomatoes, or even whole chillies… the sky is the limit!
The reason this was an adventure is that it was a departure from the usual eggplant recipes I’d been making and eating my whole life and I combined two of my favourite things in life: eggplants and pasta. As for my husband, before I’d met him he had never tasted or cooked eggplant in his life, so this dish was a revelation.
If you live in a place where eggplants are cheap and abundant, this recipe is also an amazing money-saver. It’s a bit low on protein, though, so this isn’t an adequate plant-based protein source. In the future I’ll post some plant-based recipes that are also protein-rich and delicious.
It’s important, though, to make sure that the eggplant is prepared correctly or else it turns into a soggy mess. To prep the eggplant I usually partially peel it (I like the texture of the outer skin) and cut it into medium-sized cubes. I then place these cubes in a colander and generously salt them. The salt helps dry out the eggplant. I usually leave them for about an hour and then, just to be extra sure, I squeeze the eggplant chunks to get rid of even more water. This ensures that your eggplant retains its texture with cooking and has none of that sogginess people often associate with eggplants.
- 1 large eggplant
- 1/2 can chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 large red onion
- Packaged spaghetti or other pasta, enough for 2 persons (portions vary, this depends entirely on each person)
- Parmesan or vegetarian parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon rosemary
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Prepare the eggplant as described above.
- Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a deep frying pan
- Fry the eggplant cubes until crisp on the outside and cooked all the way through.
- Place eggplant pieces on paper towels to drain the oil
- In the meantime, heat the remaining oil in a medium pot and add the onions. Saute until light golden, season with salt, sugar, pepper and herbs, then add the canned tomatoes. Let it simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat, then add the eggplant and stir gently. Let simmer for another 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, fill a large pot two-thirds of the way with water, add salt and bring to a boil. Once it boils add the spaghetti and cook until it has a bit of a bite to it, but is mostly cooked.
- Remove pasta from water and add to the sauce, while reserving the pasta water on the side. Mix gently with a large wooden spoon. If the sauce and pasta are too dry, add a ladleful of pasta water to loosen it up. Be careful not to add too much or the pasta will be watery.
- Once the pasta is cooked, serve and add grated cheese on top. Enjoy!
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