September 13, 2011

EGGPLANT #1 - Summer Vegetable Pasta

So, a couple of weeks ago we visited the Bestie's in Monterey.  Mrs. Bestie's Dad gave us 2 eggplants from his garden saying they had so many, they didn't know what to do with them.  Normally I make my famous Eggplant Parmesan with eggplant, but it's too heavy of a dish for summertime (in my humble opinion).  So, I decided to find some new uses for eggplant for us to try and to give Mrs. Bestie's Dad some ideas of what he could do with his overabundant supply.

For Eggplant #1 I was thinking a pasta.  I started searching around and found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's site.  So, I was inspired, but I didn't want to use canned tomatoes when I had some good looking vine-ripened ones at home...plus, I'm on an anti-canned tomato tip right now.  There is something so acidy about canned tomatoes.  I've been searching for a marinara recipe and I've been having trouble finding one that uses only fresh tomatoes.  If anyone has one please share.

OK, end of rant.  In addition to having vine-ripened tomatoes, I also had a bunch of other veggies I wanted to throw in.

So here goes....

Start boiling your water.
I didn't take a picture of this because it would be...well...a picture of boiling water.

Take your eggplant and cut it into slices, leaving the skin on....


...then sprinkle some salt on it.  The Pioneer Woman says, "the salt is going to help draw the excess moisture out of the eggplant so it’ll cook betterAnytime you cook with eggplant, you’ll want to follow this step first."
She is right.  I always do this too.  I don't know who told me this - I think maybe my IronMom, but it does work, so please follow this instruction.

Leave the salt on for 15-20 minutes (while you're doing other stuff, of course) then flip them over and salt the other side.  Leave that side sweating for 15-20 minutes (while you're doing more stuff), then when you're done with all that stuff, rinse them off.

We'll get back to the eggplant later.

I had some zucchini to use, so I sliced it into rounds...


....then I stacked up my rounds and cut them into quarters...


...set these guys aside.

On to the onion!  I used a yellow one.....


...chop it up and set it aside.

Next player at bat - garlic!

...chop it up and set it aside.

Are your eggplants sweating yet??

Now spinach...tear it up and clean it off...


(Sorry, all of my spinach pictures were pretty bad.  You get the idea.)

BTW, when your spinach is getting wilty, just saute it up with some garlic or throw it in something. 
It's a good way to use it up before it goes totally bad.

Basil anyone?


Rip some up and throw it in with the spinach.

BTW #2 - basil likes a big pot and lots of water. 
Mine have done way better this summer since I started planting them in bigger pots.

Oh yeah, those vine-ripened tomatoes are next....


(Are you noticing a theme with my photos?  It was working well to balance the camera on the counter top and take these.  I decided I need a mini-tripod dealio.)

Salt & Pepper those babies up and set them aside...


Remember your eggplant?  It should be done sweating now. 
You can rinse it off, pat it dry and chop it up...


(please excuse that little ingredient trying to sneak in the frame before it's his turn)

Like The Pioneer Woman, I also used Fusili, but any pasta will do.  Though I recommend a shorter, thicker one, like penne or large macaroni...


You can probably start boiling your noodles now.

...remember that sneaky little ingredient? 
We had a couple of chicken sausages (the pre-cooked kind), so I chopped those up too....


...once chopped, set aside.

OK, it's time to start cooking!

I used a large skillet and some olive oil.
Eggplant first because it takes some time....


...once the eggplant starts to get soft, add those zucchini. 
Once the zucchini are about done, add in the pre-cooked chicken sausage (if you're using it).
Continue to saute until done, then put the mixture in a separate bowl.

Oh yeah!  I also sprinkled some of this ↓ on it while it was cooking....


...it's my favorite little spice lately.  Have you noticed?

OK, now the tomatoes and other goodness...

Using the same pan as before, heat up about 1/4 cup of olive oil (it sounds like a lot, I know),
then add in the onions and garlic and get them sauteing,
then add your chopped tomatoes...


(kind of blurry, sorry)

Keep cooking on medium heat until your tomatoes start to get soft...it should only take a minute or two...


Next, add in the spinach and basil...


...and let it cook down.  Again, only a minute or so...


Now dump your eggplant, zucchini and chicken sausage back into the mix...


...and stir it up...


...set your pan to simmer and put a lid on it!

You don't really have to.  I just wanted to say "put a lid on it!"

Your noodles should be done.
Drain them.
Rinse them in super hot water to get the starch off (so they don't stick).
Plate them.
Add some scoops of your veggie sauce, oops "swuaas", on top...


Oh yeah, put some grated Parmesan on it too!


Viola!

Chows on!

Last but not least:  You can pretty much use any veggies you want for this - mushrooms would be good or bell pepper, or whatever.  I tend to use whatever veggies I have in my kitchen when I'm making pasta.  Also, adding meat (like we did here) is totally up to you.  Put in whatever you want!

I posted the entire recipe to Tasty Kitchen

Happy Eating!

*I shared this recipe on the following sites, click the links for more tasty recipes!










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