Enjoy the harvest with this easy, Mediterranean inspired, eggplant and pasta recipe.
Long time readers know that I am a big advocate of the Mediterranean Diet and that I credit it with helping me to keep my genetically high cholesterol somewhat under control. Of course it helps that traditional Mediterranean fare is abundant with the foods I like best; fresh fruits and vegetables, rich flavorful cheeses, filling whole grains, and highly flavored herbs and spices.
Yes, my palate has come a long way from my Puritan New England roots (no more boiled dinners but I still love baked beans, blueberries, anything molasses and of course, Moxie – but that’s a post for another day). Today I embrace Mediterranean staples like greens, olive oil, garbanzo beans, olives and eggplant.
Eggplant is one of my favorites. Last year I grew eggplant for the first time and was amazed at the beautiful plant. So this year I planted a few plants, looking forward to my late season eggplant harvest.
Unfortunately Mother Nature had other things in mind and the whole garden harvest was greatly reduced this year. But I did get one large, beautiful, purple eggplant. I thought about grilling it (always delicious) or turning it into eggplant Parmesan (but I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes at the same time) but decided on this unusual family favorite.
Eggplant sometimes gets a bad rap. In fact, it is the number one food clients tell me they don’t like. Usually it’s because of the “gloopiness.” If you’ve only ever tried eggplant as Baba Ganaoush the texture may turn you off. But here the eggplant is sauteed, not cooked until it falls apart. You are able to taste eggplant’s earthiness, offset with the bitterness of capers, salty olives and crunchy nuts. Better yet, it’s an easy dish to prepare with fresh, just picked eggplant.
- 1 lb. eggplant
- 1 large leek
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup small black olives
- 1 Tbsp capers
- ¼ cup pine nuts or pistachios (sometimes I use walnuts)
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¾ lb. cooked ziti or other pasta
- Freshly grated Asiago chese
- Trim top and bottom from eggplant.
- Cut into cubes and set in a colander. Toss cubes with a little salt and let drain for 15 minutes.
- Rinse well and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Slice the white and light green parts of the leek.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute leek until soft, 3-4 minutes.
- Add rinsed eggplant to skillet. Saute until soft, 5-15 minutes.
- Add olives, capers, nuts and red pepper flakes. Heat through.
- Toss with drained pasta, adding small amounts of additional olive oil if desired.
- Top each serving with grated cheese.