01 September 2010

Tomatoes, Eggplant & Mint...A Fairy Tale Love Story

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved eggplant. However, she shared her table with an eggplant ogre....until one day she discovered Fairy Tale Eggplant...and a special elixir that could persuade even the eggplant ogre to love this much maligned vegetable...

Diminutive, deep violet and magical....these sweet little babies hanging from Fairy like skirts caught my eye at the local farmers market recently. My husband is not a fan of eggplant so I am always looking for recipes that may persuade his taste buds. I think I may have found a recipe that even an eggplant hater will love.

The recipe came from my favorite vegetable cookbook,
Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style by Vivana La Place

This book could turn a devote meat eater into a vegetarian!

Chocked full of delicious and unusual preparations for vegetables like Carrots in Basil Cream, Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Dressing, Leeks in Pink Mascarpone Sauce, Zucchini and Beet Greens Soup and Lettuce and Sorrel Frittata with Herbs.

Tomatoes and eggplant, that's a given, but who ever heard of MINT with tomatoes?

The recipe calls for fresh tomatoes but I was anxious to try my latest batch of canned tomatoes (sublime btw, in fact I may just take on another day of canning this weekend because I am afraid that I won't even make it though October with the 15 quarts that I put up.)

This happens to be one of those dishes that is even better the second day, if you happen to have leftovers.This is an excellent brand of pasta.

Spaghettini With Eggplant-Flavored Tomato Sauce

8 Japanese eggplant(I substituted Fairy Eggplant) about 5" long
3 oz caciocavallo cheese cut into 24 pieces
4 garlic cloves, sliced and 2 chopped
1/2 bunch of mint leaves
olive oil for frying the eggplant
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion finally chopped
2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled seeded and coarsely pureed (I used canned tomatoes)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound imported dried spaghettini
freshly grated imported Pecorino Romano cheese

Using a sharp knife, make incisions in the widest part of each of the eggplant. Gently insert a piece of cheese into 3 of the cuts and a slice of garlic and a mint leaf into the other 3.
Place enough olive oil to measure 1/4 inch in a medium saute pan. Brown eggplant a few at a time over medium heat until slightly soft, about 5 min.

In a large saucepan, combine the extra virgin olive oil, chopped onion and garlic. Cook over low heat until onion softens. Add tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. Raise heat to high and when sauce comes to a boil reduce to medium and add the eggplant along with the minced mint leaves reserving a few for garnish. Simmer partly covered until eggplant are tender and sauce has thickened. Using a slotted spoon transfer the eggplant to a serving dish and sprinkle with reserved mint.

Meanwhile cook pasta until al dente and toss with tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese.

La Place recommends serving the pasta as a first course and the eggplant as a main course but I tossed it all together. I found that the eggplant has a way of almost melting along with the cheese into the sauce (in a good way). The mint lends an interesting and fresh change from basil and gives this dish a unique flavor...semplicemente squisito!

Tomatoes, eggplant, mint

.....and they lived happily ever after.


Su-sieee! Mac said...

What a lovely story. Japanese eggplant is my favorite of all eggplants. Not even the round white Thai ones can take their place. Never in my life would I have matched mint with eggplant. Mint doesn't do well with me, so I hesitate to even try. Still, curiosity may win over. Thanks for the recipe.

Su-sieee! Mac
This and That. Here and There. Now, Sometimes Then.

newlywed said...

Sounds delicious! Wish I could get eggplant past my husband!