Pasta arrabbiata with eggplant

2006’s eggplant harvestI will admit that I’m something of a perfectionist. That compulsiveness drove me to feel intense pressure to come up with a spectacular, nay, splendiferous way to use our entire eggplant harvest.

That harvest consisted of exactly four eggplants, folks. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Or at least a deep, complete acceptance of the fact that we weren’t going to get to experience a wide variety of eggplantalicious taste sensations.

I wanted to try something new, but something I that I could trust to be delicious. I thought about reverting to some of my eggplant standby recipes, but felt compelled to strike out in unknown directions.

While browsing through recipes, I stumbled across a Pasta Arrabbiata with Eggplant recipe in a recent issue of Rachael Ray’s magazine. I know, I know. I just wrote about one of her pasta recipes. But this one caught my eye, mostly because it looked pretty adaptable and it used a lot of ingredients that I already had on hand. It also provided me an opportunity to use the last of the basil and Italian parsley to their best advantage.

I will say this: my version of the recipe was good, but kind of good in that New Year’s Eve kind of way–my expectations were so much more interesting than the reality. I wanted my eggplant to shine, to dazzle us. And honestly, it was just sort of OK. It had a sort of stunted taste, which I suppose makes sense, since the poor plants were stunted by the juglone, and two of the eggplants were barely big enough to harvest.

Pasta Arrabbiata with Eggplant
Serves 4

1 pound whole-wheat linguine or penne
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Approximately 1.5 lbs eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
A large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
A large handful of fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Freshly ground pepper
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  1. Cook the pasta in salted water as directed. Drain, reserving one cup of the cooking water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and saute for about a minute. Add the eggplant, season with salt, and cook until the eggplant is tender.
  3. Break up the eggplant with the back of your spoon, and add the tomatoes. Heat through.
  4. Add the parsley and basil, and season again to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved cooking water, then toss with the pasta. Serve immediately, adding cheese to taste at the table.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey? Be sure to stop by to read the whole, fabulous round-up!

11 Responses to “Pasta arrabbiata with eggplant”

  1. 1 Lydia November 10, 2006 at 6:16 am

    Genie, your eggplants are beautiful. Be proud of that harvest!

  2. 2 gattina November 10, 2006 at 6:21 am

    It’s a smart recipe, adding such a creamy texture to the pasta without using any fatty cream!
    Genie, hope your eggplants grow like a jungle next season!

  3. 3 sher November 10, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve had years like that with eggplant. This year was great, not sure why this kind of thing hapens. Next year I may not get anything. But, the eggplant you got are beautiful. I’ll save this recipe because it’s delicious, I can tell from reading it! Hope your eggplants are better next year!

  4. 4 katie November 11, 2006 at 5:43 am

    Your eggplants are lovely – much nicer then mine – picture here _____ Yep, that’s right, nothing happened. I did get a giant pumpkin though. Try again mext year.
    BTW I killed all of my cactus in one fell swoop – left them in the window one 100 degree Minnesota day….

  5. 5 Meeta November 11, 2006 at 6:15 am

    Looks great. I love eggplant and we love our pasta nad this makes a great recipe for the weekend.

    Thanks for entering it to the WHB.

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener November 11, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    Lydia, thanks — they looked gorgeous, but were so teeny. Next year, I’ll replant, but not under the black walnut!

    Gattina, yes, the eggplant mash definitely made the dish creamy. I love that trick with any kind of veggie puree!

    Sher, yes, maybe next year we’ll see a serious improvement. We’ll see how it goes! I’m a big fan of eggplant, so it would be great to have more than we got this time around.

    Katie, all your cactus at the same time? You’d think the heat wouldn’t affect them like that. I swear…I learn something new every day.

    Meeta, thanks for hosting this week — I’m looking forward to the roundup!

  7. 7 Kalyn November 12, 2006 at 9:08 am

    Considering your garden woes this year with the black walnut tree, I’m impressed you got any eggplant at all. They do need a lot of sun. I’ve had good luck with the Japanese eggplants, which are simply fabulous brushed with some olive oil, sprinkled with herbs, and grilled. Your pasta dish sounds just delicious, and a good way to celebrate the eggplant harvest.

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener November 12, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    Kalyn, actually, you’re absolutely right — I was surprised that we got any kind of eggplant showing. Next year, I might try Japanese eggplants, because they’re one of my favorites, too. I love cooking them just the way you describe!

  9. 9 angie November 13, 2006 at 8:45 am

    Genie, you have such plump and lovely eggplants!

  10. 10 Ruth November 14, 2006 at 7:05 am

    Great harvest – says of I of the “no garden luck at all” school of gardening.

    Thanks for sharing the great recipe too.

  11. 11 inadvertentgardener November 14, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    Angie, aw, shucks…that’s so sweet!

    Ruth, you’re so welcome — thanks for stopping by!

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