Garden pasta

June 27, 2012

Like any self-respecting Mediterranean household, we grow a large variety of aromatic herbs in our garden; among them, mint, which is delicious on top of a whole-wheat crispy flat bread with Greek yogurt and olive oil, and as a tea as well (a personal favourite.) When I am cooking (something that isn't pastry, where I remain very classic, very French), I go outside with my little basket and pick up a bit of whatever's growing. This is how I got "inspired" for this dish of linguine pasta with tomato sauce and roasted eggplants. A little fresh herbs (and preparation) take a simple dish to a truly fragrant delight.

Ingredients (for 4 people):
- Olive oil (...a lot)
- Coarse alt
- 1 pack of linguine (my favourite brand is Barilla, it cooks well without getting all icky and pasty)
- 1 medium eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch slices
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 small can of tomato concentrate
- 1-2 teaspoon of paprika
- Fresh herbs: rosemary, parsley (or thyme, sage, basil... etc), washed, dried and coarsely chopped.

Bring water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a large pan. Add the pasta and cook until al-dente, for about 8 minutes or otherwise according to package directions.

Prepare the eggplants: Preheat the oven at 450 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Lay down the eggplant slices on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, making sure that each slice gets, well, relatively well coated. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs and salt, rub it in lightly. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until the eggplants are well-cooked and tender.

Make the sauce: In a bowl, mix the tomato concentrate with about 2-3 times the same volume of water (To make things simpler, I use the can of concentrate to measure the water). In a medium pan, heat some olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden. Reduce the heat (burnt onion doesn't taste good!),  and add the tomato mix. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for about 5-7 minutes, until the sauce thickens or reaches the consistency you like. Add the paprika and the herbs and stir.

Serve the sauce over the pasta with the eggplants on top.

- Check the eggplants often to be sure they don't burn. Depending on your oven, you might want to give the slices a flip.
- Don't overdo it with the herbs (especially fresh herbs, of which the flavours are much stronger) : you don't want an overdose of flavours but a few that enhance each other. I like the fresh crispness of parsley with fragrant rosemary (my favourite aromatic herb). But be careful when you use thyme, since it can be quite strong. Basil is also a herb that I think is better appreciated on its own.
- Same, don't use mint in such a dish, or in one that involves heat. Cooked mint makes everything taste like you spilled herbal tea on it.
- If you think the tomato concentrate is too acid, you can add a tablespoon of sugar to the sauce while it's cooking.
- You can add fresh cherry tomatoes to the sauce (just be sure to do it at the very end, so they don't get too mushy).
- And of course, you can top with freshly-shaved Parmesan!

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1 comment:

jhilmilbeauty said...

Hey Sophie-Marie,
Thanks for the inspiring note on my blog and sorrry for the dealy in replying.I love the recipe so much..Often I end up buying whole lot of eggplants and end up making the same recipes. Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe..I am definitely going to try this week.

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