Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spaghetti with Spicy Eggplant Marinara

Having recently signed up for the 2010 Philadelphia Marathon, I can look forward to the three months of early morning runs, chafed nipples, and blood blisters on my toes that comes with readying my body for the 26.2 mile race.  The one good that comes from marathon training--aside from looser-fitting clothes--is that it brings on a constant craving for carbohydrates.  With beer and sweets being somewhat off-limits, I turn to pasta to get my carb fix, so be prepared for many pasta recipes the next few months.

To kick off my training, I made a spicy marinara containing slices of fried eggplant and served it over a plateful of spaghetti.  Don't be intimidated by the fried eggplant; eggplant is one of the easiest foods to fry and creates minimal mess.  Just be sure to leave at least 30 minutes to salt the eggplant so that it releases all of its excess water.  Aside from that step, this dish is quick to prepare, and while I'm still looking for a super food to heal my blood blisters, it at least got me through my run the following morning.

Spaghetti with Spicy Eggplant Marinara
Serves 4

  • 1 large globe eggplant
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • Canola oil, for frying the eggplant
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes with their juice, crushed by hand 
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
  1. Slice off each end of the eggplant.  Slice it into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
  2. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and toss with 1 tbsp salt.  Let the eggplant sit for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Rinse the eggplant and pat it dry with paper towels.
  4. Pour enough canola oil into a saute pan to come 2 inches up the sides.  Heat the oil to 350F.  
  5. Working in batches, add the eggplant to the pan without crowding or overlapping.  Fry until the eggplant begins is golden on one side, 2 to 3 minutes.  Flip the eggplant slices and fry until the other side is golden brown, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels.  Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  7. Add the garlic to the pan and stir until it turns golden, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the tomatoes, parsley and pepper flakes to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer.  Season it with salt.  Let the sauce simmer until it thickens to a desired consistency and the oil separates, about 30 minutes.  With about 10 minutes left, begin boiling the pasta as per the instructions on the package.
  9. Chop the eggplant slices into quarter-size pieces.  Add them to the sauce and continue to simmer for another 3 minutes.  Taste the sauce for salt and add more red pepper flakes if desired.
  10. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.  Serve the pasta immediately,  topped with grated Pecorino Romano cheese. 

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