Monday, August 10, 2009

Penne with Eggplant, Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil

I always get excited when eggplants begin to show up in the New York Greenmarkets in the summer. To me, no vegetable is more delicious with pasta than eggplant. Its meaty and smoky flavor make even this simple meatless pasta dish a very hearty meal.

Penne with Eggplant, Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil

Serves 4

  • 12 oz. penne
  • 1 globe eggplant, cubed
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  1. Place eggplant in a colander and toss with salt. Set aside for half an hour to allow eggplant to release water. Rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is browned, about 5 minutes. Remove eggplant and wipe skillet clean.
  3. Add remaining olive oil to skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Add olives, eggplant, and pepper, and simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions.
  5. Three minuted before the pasta is cooked, add the cherry tomatoes and basil to the skillet. Continue to simmer, breaking up a few of the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.
  6. When pasta is al dente, drain, reserving 1/2 a cup of the cooking water.
  7. Add pasta to skillet and continue to cook for another minute, until sauce begins to coat the pasta. If necessary, add some pasta cooking liquid to the pan. Serve immediately.

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