Downturn Dish: An eggplant in every pot

April 8, 2009

When I come home at night and it's April (but still freezing in Chicag0), the last thing I want is a salad. But what I do want is warm, comforting pasta with cheese and veggies. The recipe below is not complicated and will hopefully help you use up some of the stuff about to go bad in your vegetable drawer. If you have zucchini on hand instead of eggplant, use that. And if you want something less sauce-y, feel free to ditch the jarred stuff and just use extra olive oil. Cheesy Veggie Mania Pasta Ingredients: 1/2 an eggplant (or 1 baby eggplant) 1/2 of a white onion (yellow is fine too) 1/2 a large tomato 1 cup uncooked pasta (gemelli is best) 2 tbs. minced garlic 1 tsp. paprika 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 1/4 cup jarred pasta sauce 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese Olive oil Salt and pepper Depending on how long water takes to boil on your stove and how long the pasta must cook (most gemelli takes 13-15 minutes), you will likely want to start boiling water for the pasta now. Time it so that the pasta is done at approximately the same time as the sauce (sauce takes about 20 minutes). When pasta is done cooking, be sure to drain but reserve the pot. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat--start with about 1/8 cup olive oil, but you might need to add more as you put in the veggies As the oil is heating, chop up tomato, onion and eggplant. I like my onion diced, in the smallest pieces possible--same goes for the tomato. The eggplant is best chopped small, too, as it's tastiest when tender (about 1/2 in. cubes). Once oil is hot, add garlic and let cook for one minute (if the garlic starts popping and flying out of the pan, just remove from heat until it stops). Add chopped onion. Cook about 3 minutes, until onion begins to soften and become translucent Add diced eggplant and a pinch of salt. Make sure eggplant is well coated in oil, but not drenched--add more oil if necessary. Cook for 5 minutes, being sure to stir every 2 minutes Add diced tomato, paprika, red pepper flakes, jarred sauce. Stir well. Reduce heat to medium-low, cook for 10 minutes or until eggplant is soft/firm enough to your liking, stirring every 2 minutes. With your pasta drained, return to pot and mix with sauce and feta cheese. Transfer to bowl and serve.