There are just some foods that take time to be appreciated. For me, one of those foods was eggplant. Looking at the fruit, there is really nothing very exciting about it. In spite of its purple hue, an eggplant has little to offer to the average eye. Part of its problem is the fact that one cannot simply cut it up and eat it raw. Rather, in order for it to taste good, eggplant requires quite a bit of elbow grease in the kitchen.

While many might avoid eggplant because of a fear of the kitchen and/or sheer laziness, the ingredient’s versatility makes it one of fall’s best for cooking. From sauteing to pan-frying to grilling or roasting, eggplant can be prepared as the star ingredient of a main course or as an addition to it. One can even combine techniques, such as roasting and pureeing, to create dishes, such as a thick and creamy baba ghanoush dip.

Yet, even with all these different methods of preparation, my favorite eggplant dish is the classic Eggplant Parmesan. Perhaps it is because of my Italian roots, but I have a hard time saying no to a plate of breaded eggplant covered with rich marinara sauce and melted cheese. Unfortunately, the dish is neither the easiest nor the healthiest dish to prepare at home. Luckily for me, however, my cravings can be satisfied with this recipe, adapted from the blog “Big Girls, Small Kitchen.” By combining the traditional elements of eggplant parmesan in a deconstructed version of the Italian classic, this pasta dish will have eggplant skeptics rethinking their opinions.

Ingredients:

Makes four servings

 

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups marinara sauce

1 tomato, seeded and diced

1 pound rigatoni

½ pound mozzarella, chopped

¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan

Directions:

 

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

 

2. As the water comes to a boil, set a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about two tablespoons. Add the eggplant, onion and one teaspoon salt and saute, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the eggplant is tender. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook until fragrant, about two more minutes.

 

3. Pour the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes over the eggplant mixture and stir to combine. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as necessary.

 

4. In a small nonstick pan, toast the breadcrumbs with a little bit of olive oil until golden brown, about three minutes. Set aside.

 

5. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and add to the pan with the pasta sauce. Add the chopped mozzarella and toss to combine.

 

6. Spoon the pasta into serving bowls and top each with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

 

Bethany Imondi is a junior in the College. She can be reached at [email protected] Market to Table appears every other Friday in the guide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*