This recipe makes me feel like Charlton Heston in “Soylent Green,” stumbling through the street, desperate to get the word out that … this PASTA is MADE of EGGPLANT!
And it’s GOOD.
More rustic than those ribbons of squash and zucchini pimped as pasta substitutes all summer long, these eggplant slices are surprisingly strong and can be cut down to the size of fettuccini (or thinner), but once they hit the heat of the pan … sweet alchemy. Within just a few minutes, they’re soft and ready to absorb the olive oil, garlic and the spice of the red pepper flakes. Add a few chopped tomatoes, a little cream, a few pinches of fresh basil and a small handful of Parmesan to the pan, and you have a dish that’s as filling and flavorful as a huge dish of pasta without all the white flour.
We have to save that for the cakes and cookies.
Adapted from Alton Brown’s “Good Eats: The Early Years”
- 2 medium-large eggplants
- Kosher salt, for purging
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup cream
- 4 tablespoons basil chiffonade
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Freshly ground pepper
- Peel each eggplant leaving 1-inch of skin at the top and bottom unpeeled. Slice the eggplant lengthwise, about 1/4-inch thick. Evenly coat each slice with salt, and let them rest on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and roll in paper towels to dry. Slice the pieces into thin strips to resemble pasta.
- In a large saute pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and toast.
- Add the eggplant “pasta,” and toss to coat.
- Add the tomatoes, and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the cream, and increase heat to thicken sauce.
- Add the basil and Parmesan, and toss to combine. Season with pepper. Serve immediately.