19 Feb2010

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Here’s a terrific non-meat dish for the Lenten Season (or any other time of the year). A quick check of the archives confirmed that I have never featured this incredibly simple and delicious pasta, so here it is. First cut several eggplants into roughly ¾ inch cubes and spread them out on a baking pan and add generous amounts of olive oil and some salt and mix them and place them in a hot (375F) oven for some 20-25 minutes until slightly browned and cooked through. They won’t look so hot just yet, but don’t fret. Just make sure they aren’t undercooked and chewy.

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Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water up to a boil, ready for the pasta. In another pan, add olive oil, some roughly chopped onions, a couple of cloves of garlic finely chopped, and sauté until fragrant. Add a little splash of sherry vinegar to deglaze the pan, add say two tablespoons of tomato paste and mix well. Next, add several cups of chopped up whole tomatoes (Italian if possible), and stir over medium-high heat to reduce liquid slightly. Add salt and cracked black pepper and a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes if some spice is desired.

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When the sauce has cooked for some 5-8 minutes, add the baked eggplant and stir gently to mix. Let this simmer for a minute or two longer. It should be a relatively thick sauce, but not dry by any means. Once the pasta (penne in this case) is ready, add the sauce, some cubed fresh buffala mozzarella and chopped fresh Italian parsley and fresh basil and serve immediately.

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You can keep this vegetarian by omitting the cheese, but I like the addition of the cheese… We even serve it with grated parmesan on the side to add as desired. This is an incredibly simple, econmical and satisfying dish to prepare for a few or a lot of guests. This dish is traditionally made by frying the eggplant cubes, but I find that version gets a little too rich and oily. The baked version is less intense, brighter and lighter. If you can handle the extra carbs, serve with some good bread on the side, with some good butter of course. I have a funny feeling I am going to lose my weight loss bet with the Teen by March 9… :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. frenchadobo says:

    don’t have sherry vinegar available, would it be possible to substitute it with balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar instead ?

    Feb 19, 2010 | 5:03 pm

     
  2. carinae says:

    This looks and sounds amazing…I love eggplant and all that you’ve got in here. woo hoo!

    Feb 19, 2010 | 5:17 pm

     
  3. Eden says:

    I would think adding wine instead of the vinegar will work as well.

    Feb 19, 2010 | 5:20 pm

     
  4. Footloose says:

    Although sherry vinegar is obviously a vinegar, I have a feeling port, madeira or someother fortified wine is a more appropriate substitute in this recipe instead of another vinegar. And if you can get them at all where you are, be sure you are supporting yourself on something sturdy when finding out the price. They should market them in tiny vials.

    Feb 19, 2010 | 5:21 pm

     
  5. leigh says:

    Re: the bet – don’t give up hope yet MM! :-)

    Feb 19, 2010 | 5:36 pm

     
  6. denise says:

    oooh…i’ve tried something similar at Greens (vegetarian restaurant along Tomas Morato), but with olives and tofu

    Feb 19, 2010 | 5:40 pm

     
  7. Hershey says:

    Your sauce looked like a ratatouillie lolz :D

    Feb 19, 2010 | 6:42 pm

     
  8. Betchay says:

    There’s an abundance of tomatoes in the market now and at only P15/kilo can I use the local tomatoes instead?

    Feb 19, 2010 | 7:07 pm

     
  9. Rona Y says:

    The addition of cheese won’t make the dish non-vegetarian, but it will make it non-vegan. Vegetarians usually still eat cheese, and some also eat eggs (lacto-ovo vegetarians eat both, lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products).

    I bet it would have been really great with kesong puti, too!

    Feb 19, 2010 | 7:10 pm

     
  10. Jun B says:

    It should work well on lasagna too !!!

    Feb 19, 2010 | 9:40 pm

     
  11. Lava Bien says:

    @ Rona – Kesong puti has the same source as the buffala mozzarella.. Kalabaw or water buffalo hence buffala en Italiani, prego! But most of our people do not know that heheheh We eat good food, suso or kuhol and the French just call it escargot hehehe mas susyal so mas mahal hehehehe.

    Feb 19, 2010 | 10:06 pm

     
  12. michelle h. says:

    Lava Bien, ssshhhhhh! Secret yan. My family loves caprese salad and for the past few months I’ve been cheating and using the less pricey carabao Kesong Puti from Mr. Moo instead of the Bocconcini from S&R. Family has not caught on to my substitution yet.

    Feb 19, 2010 | 11:26 pm

     
  13. Mom-Friday says:

    another dish I will try! i love pasta. I’m lining up some meatless dishes for Lent as well. A great day to win a bet, hehe… March 9 is my birthday! So I wish you win your weight loss bet!!! keep us posted :)

    Feb 19, 2010 | 11:35 pm

     
  14. pia l. says:

    What I like to do is roast some eggplants over an open flame (I do it over the stove top), peel off the blackened skin, and incorporate the eggplant flesh in my tomato based pasta sauce. Roasting the eggplant somehow takes up the dish another notch :)

    Feb 19, 2010 | 11:43 pm

     
  15. roland says:

    MM what a sweet conundrum you put me in! I was going to do this http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/02/my-favorite-pizza/
    now I am leaning towards yours!

    Feb 19, 2010 | 11:51 pm

     
  16. betty q. says:

    Hey, MM…have you tried cutiing the eggplant in half or thick diagonal slices and brushing them with oilive oil and barbecuing them?….masaaaaarap! then cut them into cubes and add to your tomato sauce last. …works with zucchinis and sweet peppers too! But here is the clincher…make BASIL OIL with garlic the drizzle it over your pasta. Then with the basil and softened garlic, smoosh it to a paste togethere with sundried tomatoes ( you can add a tiny bit of light mayo….but I don’t anymore at mapapadami pa ang kain!)… and spread them over Artisan’s baguette slices and top with cheese and bake!

    When eggplants are on sale, mga Mrs….cut them in diagonal slices or pahaba and BARBECUE THEM…I know it is matrabajo but you are going to cook them for your loved ones so I would do that extra things for them….anyway, going back to barbecued eggplants, zucchinis, etc….you can do them ahead of time and FREEEEEZE!…single layer and on top of parchment paper for each layer and you can stack them up in a tupperware!

    Feb 20, 2010 | 12:22 am

     
  17. frenchadobo says:

    footloose,porto and madeira are reasonably priced here! no fresh tomatoes though ( off season). will just settle for a canned italian tomatoes.

    Feb 20, 2010 | 1:12 am

     
  18. quiapo says:

    To those that dont have access to buffalo mozzarrella or quesong puti, haloumi from sheep may make an acceptable substitute.
    Betty Q. your suggestion about barbeque vegetables solves my problem of feeding vegetarians when I do weekend barbeques.

    Feb 20, 2010 | 6:13 am

     
  19. Betchay says:

    Hi Betty Q! After you barbecue the eggplants, do you remove the skins before you cube? And thanks for that tip on basil oil!You’re always a source of good recipes and tips!

    Feb 20, 2010 | 7:49 am

     
  20. elaine says:

    This sounds absolutely delish @ the same time healthy!
    I will definitely make this one withe kesong puti;-)

    Feb 20, 2010 | 8:39 am

     
  21. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Will try this MM and bettyq will try your bbqd eggplants as well….will make some sundried tomatoes now that tomatoes are cheap…P15/kilo…

    Feb 20, 2010 | 9:10 am

     
  22. kurzhaar says:

    bettyq and pia I am with you on grilling eggplant–that smoky touch really ratchets up the flavour a few notches.
    We do a similar pasta with grilled eggplant, diced ripe tomatoes (homegrown of course!), and cheese (feta or similar goats milk cheese). If you are roasting eggplant, try roasting some kale alongside for added flavour/texture (it is addictive).

    Marketman, interesting poll you are running…I have no idea what the marriage failure rate in the Philippines is but wager it is significant (or no less at least than in other Catholic-majority countries like Spain or Italy). Not Catholics in our household but we are all for separation of church and state! (And to my home state of California, a big NO on prop H8!)

    Feb 20, 2010 | 9:15 am

     
  23. betty q. says:

    Betchay, since I use Chinese egglants (like the ones there), I just cut them in half and grill the cut side first to get the grill marks and then the other side (they are thin enough anyway)…then I don’t bother taking the skin off since I don’t barbecue them till the skin is charred. But if I am to keep them for future use by freezing them, I cut them into diagonal slices (multi-purpose so isa na lang hirap…sometimes the boys like those eggplant sandwiches with a thin slice slice of smoked cheese…try it….masarap! just marinate your barbecued eggplant in a simple vinaigrette with parmesan cheese added!)

    Oh, you can use any herb you want to make those infused oils…tarragon would be good on fish…oregano infused oil on pasta too and a little of it on moussaka…

    Feb 20, 2010 | 9:26 am

     
  24. Lilibeth says:

    This dish is similar to Ratatouille except for the zucchini. I love Ratatouille on pasta because it’s delicious and you can eat it guilt-free. One word of caution though, Marketman, if you really want to lose weight, cut down on the penne and take out the mozarella completely. Here’s a trick I would do – Put just a little pasta on your plate and pile it up with Ratatouille or your eggplant and tomato sauce with a ratio of like 4 portions of sauce to 1/2 portion of pasta and do not put any cheese (well, if you really must, then just a sprinkling). Vegetables are so filling and when it is cooked deliciously like this, you won’t even feel like you are missing a thing. The small portion of pasta is enough to satisfy your carb cravings. Like the others, I also roast about 2-3 eggplants in the stove and eat it with a little bagoong or shrimp paste and 3 tablespoons of rice (since you’re male and bulkier, make that 6 tablespoons for you) and that is one of my favorite meals. Pig out on vegetables and it eat it first so by the time you get to your main dish of meat, you only have very little space left in your stomach.

    Feb 20, 2010 | 10:25 am

     
  25. Connie C says:

    Since I do not barbecue in winter like Betty q does, or when I am lazy and rushing, I steam fry the eggplants: a little olive oil or garlic infused oil, saute eggplants adding a little water every now and then, then cover… cooks faster than in the oven with little need for a lot of oil. This is how I do it for moussaka or whenever it calls for frying the eggplant as in Szechuan eggplant.

    Feb 20, 2010 | 10:55 am

     
  26. Joyce says:

    im loving your healthy recipe options mm. great tips on grilling and freezing eggplants and such from bettyq. will try it when i pass by the grocery today.

    Feb 20, 2010 | 1:41 pm

     
  27. Joyce says:

    just remembered, grilled eggplants with korean red spicy paste is also delicious

    Feb 20, 2010 | 1:42 pm

     
  28. Marketman says:

    Yes, you can use red wine vinegar. I suppose some wine would work too. Leave out cheese if you like. Ricotta Salata a salty drier ricotta works well as well. Grilling eggplants is definitely a nice option. As for tomatoes, I would only recommend fresh if they are brilliant fresh. I find many local Philippine grown tomatoes too acidic for pasta sauces, hence my preference for canned Italian that are consistently good and reliable. Also, I think the combination of puree, chopped tomatoes and vinegar keeps the color of the tomatoes bright, hence more appetizing.

    Feb 20, 2010 | 4:44 pm

     
  29. pinayinny says:

    hi marketman!

    what an excellent dish thats just perfect for lent!:) i’ll make this tomorrow.:)

    Feb 21, 2010 | 12:32 am

     
  30. Niki at spilled ingredients says:

    This looks delicious, and just what I’ve been looking for to expand my eggplant parmesan repertoire. It looks like we may be visiting Manila in the near future for work, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the food side of it more! Thanks for the healthy recipe posts -

    Feb 21, 2010 | 6:58 am

     
  31. Jack Hammer says:

    @ pia l.’s comment re: Grilled Talong on Open Flame……reminded me of “Mutabbal (an Arabic Dip)- Eggplant, Sesame Paste, EVOO, Lemon Juice, Garlic Paste, Salt as per Taste” which I was planning to do this week.

    MM….That too will work great with Penne Pasta…just let it sit on top of Hot Pasta

    Feb 21, 2010 | 3:06 pm

     
  32. iSSa says:

    - OUT OF TOPIC –

    finally saw Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Philippines episode sir! it’s on today (repeat on 8pm, 12mn) and on Feb 24 on Travel & Living =)

    you look like you’re Chinese Marketman — are you? hehe! and the lechons looked damn great!! i bet it tasted even better.. no wonder Anthony said “best pig ever, bar none!” was salivating the entire time, sigh! ;-)

    how are you related to Augusto? the fan who got Mr. Bourdain to visit the Philippines?

    Feb 21, 2010 | 3:06 pm

     
  33. Marketman says:

    iSSa, I am not related to Augusto in any way. He was the winner of a Bourdain contest in the U.S. I don’t think I have any recent Chinese blood in my veins, though it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if I had some from previous generations.

    Feb 21, 2010 | 3:26 pm

     
 

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