MY FAVORITE PASTA RECIPE
The other day my Philadelphia dwelling son called to ask me for my favorite pasta recipe. It’s his favorite pasta recipe too. I asked him if he had first checked the blog to see if I hadn’t posted it and sure enough I hadn’t. That’s crazy because it’s my favorite pasta recipe and I can’t believe I haven’t shared it with you yet. In fact. I like this recipe so much that it was the first thing I ever cooked for my husband. The funny thing is he didn’t tell me until 20 years later that he doesn’t like eggplant, and therefore he does not like my favorite pasta recipe which just happens to be EGGPLANT PASTA.
Brad knows I like this recipe a lot, and he knows his kids like this recipe a lot, so bless his heart it took him 20 years to tell me that he didn’t like it. I was shocked because it is so delicious, and even if you think you don’t like eggplant there is no way you can’t like this recipe. It’s that good!!!
So, for the past 3 years I haven’t prepared my recipe for eggplant pasta very often. I guess that’s why I haven’t yet posted it here. But I’ve decided it’s about time you learned to make this awesome pasta recipe. It’s actually a recipe I developed as a knock-off of one I used to eat regularly at a restaurant in The OC called Mangia Mangia. Mangia Mangia was located near my then offices in Huntington Beach, and I used to go there all the time for lunch. Owned by a couple of brothers from Sicily, they serve delicious and authentic food in their very casual restaurant. But since we no longer live in The OC I can’t get my Eggplant Pasta fix unless I fix it for myself. They called it Rigatoni Siciliana. I simply call it Eggplant Pasta and here is how I make it.
Start by finely dicing 2 cups of shallots, that’s about 4 large shallots.
Next add 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil to a large frying pan. Heat the oil over a medium flame.
Once the oil is nice and hot add the diced shallots. Cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly until the shallots are tender and translucent and beginning to caramelize.
In the meantime prepare one large eggplant by cutting it first into slices, then into strips…
and then into 1 inch cubes. You should end up with about 8 cups of cubed eggplant.
Add the cubed eggplant to the frying pan with the shallots.
Then add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper.
As the eggplant begins to cook over medium low heat go mince up 15 cloves of garlic. Yes, you heard me correctly, 15 CLOVES OF GARLIC, which will equal about 1/3 cup of minced garlic. I know that may seem like a lot of garlic but trust me, this dish benefits from it and so will you because garlic is very good for you. I’ll admit, I do love garlic and in fact, I like it so much that I don’t saute it first before adding it to this dish. I don’t saute the garlic with the shallots for 2 reasons:
- I don’t want to burn or brown the garlic
- I want the fresh garlic to impart a lot of garlic flavor to this sauce.
So just throw it on into the frying pan with the eggplant…
and continue to cook it over medium low heat…
regularly stirring and mashing the eggplant for about 30 minutes until it looks mushy like this.
Next you will need a 28 ounce can of good quality peeled tomatoes. I recommend that you use San Marzano tomatoes because they really are the best tasting. Don’t go using tomatoes with added herbs and spices, just plain canned tomatoes. Using your hands, grab the tomatoes and one-by-one crush them into the eggplant. Then pour in any juices remaining in the can.
Give it a stir and also a try. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Now cover the pan and let it simmer on very low heat for about 30 minutes. Check on it from time to time, giving it a good stir.
In the meantime add water and a generous amount of salt to a large pot and put it to boil. For this dish I like to use either Penne, Rigatoni or Mostaccioli pasta.
Cook 1 pound of pasta according to package instructions until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot.
Pour your now done eggplant pasta sauce over the hot pasta…
stir it all up…
and serve it with a simple salad of greens tossed in olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper.
Grate a little parmigiano reggiano cheese over the top of the pasta and garnish it with fresh basil. Now go take a big bite of my favorite pasta recipe. I bet it will become your new favorite too!
In closing, here’s a short little video with a catchy little tune from my favorite place to eat lunch, Mangia Mangia in Huntington Beach, California.
PS – Did you know that eggplant is full of lots of things that are very beneficial to our health? It’s low in calories and high in heart healthy antioxidants. To learn much more about the great qualities of eggplant read this very interesting article: The 27 Science-Based Health Benefits of Eggplant. Want more great recipes for eggplant? Click here.
- 2 Cups Diced Shallots (about 4 Large)
- ⅔ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 8 Cups Cubed Eggplant (about 1 large)
- 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Coarse Ground Pepper
- ⅓ Cup Minced Garlic (about 15 large cloves)
- 28 Ounce Can of San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes
- 1 Lb. Rigatoni, Penne or Mostaccioli Pasta
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Fresh Basil
- Heat the oil over a medium heat.
- Add diced shallots and cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly until they are tender and translucent and beginning to caramelize.
- Add the cubed eggplant to the frying pan with the shallots.
- Add kosher salt, coarse ground pepper and garlic.
- Cook over medium low heat, regularly stirring and mashing the eggplant for about 30 minutes until it becomes mushy.
- Using your hands, grab the canned tomatoes and one-by-one mash them into the eggplant.
- Pour in any juices remaining in the can and stir to combine.
- Add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover the pan and let it simmer on very low heat for about 30 minutes.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot.
- Pour the eggplant pasta sauce over the hot pasta and stir to combine.
- Garnish with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese and fresh basil.
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