Eggplant Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
Sun-dried tomatoes add wonderful color to the sauce. You don't need to add a lot because their flavor is pretty robust and concentrated with an exquisite hint of saltiness. I selected penne pasta because the shape enables the sauce to coat and penetrate the pasta so each bite is extra scrumptious.
Yields: 6 servings1 eggplant
1 pound penne pasta, cooked (save some of the water when draining the pasta)
1½ tablespoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons butter, diced
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, warm
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
½ cup olive oil, as needed
¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
Note for the penne pasta: Cook according to package instructions. When the pasta is cooked (floats to the surface but is still in shape and firm), reserve about ½ cup to 1½ cups of pasta water and drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Season with a little salt.
Cooking the eggplant: Trim and slice the eggplant lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Brush a flat pan with oil. Add the eggplant slices and cook on both sides until slightly browned. Coarsely chop.
For the sun-dried tomato sauce: In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low; you don't want it to burn. Add the flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter and form a paste. Stir well until incorporated and add the milk in 3 stages. Increase the heat and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and reduce the heat to low. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a blender and pulse until the color is uniform. Let the sauce rest until it's time to assemble the dish.
In a large non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the yellow onion and cook for 5-6 minutes until golden and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the penne pasta and toss for 2-3 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomato sauce and about ½ cup warm pasta water. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add a little more pasta water. Add the chopped eggplant and turn off the heat. Garnish with the parsley and mix until the pasta is well coated. Add more salt if necessary.
Quick reminder on boiling pasta: Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add the penne pasta, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. Cook the pasta for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and continue cooking for an additional 8-10 minutes. Keep stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom. When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), reserve about 1 to 1½ cups of pasta water and drain the pasta. Immediately transfer the drained pasta back to the pan.
If you're a pasta lover, check out my other pasta dishes.Published By: on February 5, 2014.