Serving
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Eggplant Sauce for Pasta
Italy
  -   Pasta con Melanzane al Casaletto
For 1-1/2 #
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
Pasta  
**
2 hr  
Yes
Originating from the Ristorante Cassaletto near Rome, this sauce is quite delicious. Being softly chunky, it goes well with short pasta shapes. In the photo it is shown with an unusually small version of Pennette.






1
1
6
1
2/3
2
3
2
10
3/4
2
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T
c
t
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T

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T
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Eggplant (1)
Salt
Butter (2)
Wine, dry white
Peppercorns, green (3)
Tomatoes, ripe (4)
Garlic, large
Olive Oil, ExtV
Basil Leaves
Salt
Butter, melted
--- Garnish
Parmesan Cheese
Prep   -   (1-1/4 hour - 25 min work)
  1. Cut off the stem and flower end of the unpeeled EGGPLANTS. Slice them crosswise 1/2 inch thick. Rub the slices on both sides with salt and keep in a bowl for 45 minutes to an hour, tumbling now and then (see Note-5).
  2. Rinse Eggplant slices in warm water until they no longer taste salty. Pat them dry and cut into dice about 1/2 inch on a side depending on the texture you want.
  3. Scald TOMATOES 1 minute in boiling water, chill in cold water and peel. Chop fairly fine.
  4. Crush GARLIC and chop very fine.
  5. Grind Green Peppercorns.
  6. Grate CHEESE for garnish.
  7. Tear BASIL into shreds. Hold in cold water until needed.
  8. Melt Butter for the Pasta, 2 T for 1 pound pasta.
Run   -   (45 min)
  1. In a coverable sauté pan, heat Butter and stir in Eggplant. Turn heat to low, cover tightly and simmer slowly for about 20 minutes. Stir every so often.
  2. Add Wine and simmer until mostly evaporated, then stir in Green Peppercorns. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile:   In a sauté or sauce pan large enough for the whole recipe, heat Olive Oil over moderate heat. Stir in Garlic and fry stirring just until softened, no browning.
  4. Stir in the Tomatoes and cook stirring over moderate heat until most liquid has evaporated. Don't cook too dry, though, or the fresh taste of the tomatoes will be lost. If using canned tomatoes, you'll need to simmer longer to reduce the liquid.
  5. Combine Eggplant with Tomatoes. Season to taste with Salt.
  6. Just before serving, drain the Basil and stir in.
  7. Cook Pasta the usual way. When done al dente, drain, return to the pot and tumble with the Melted Butter.
  8. Serve warm over warm pasta, garnished with Parmesan Cheese and more on the side (see Note-6).
NOTES:
  1. Eggplants:   Use the small dark purple Italian eggplants (or Japanese, you can hardly tell them apart, except by stem color). Actually, my market was short on types of eggplant when I shopped for this recipe, so I used Chinese eggplants, and they worked fine. Don't use white eggplants or the standard globe eggplants, both of which have rather tough skins. See also Note-7).
  2. Butter:   The writer of the source cookbook, as do most European recipe writers, insists in all recipes on "sweet" (unsalted) butter. Chefs say this allows them to better control the saltiness of the dish - but then tell you to add salt "to taste". I just don't have a problem with salted butter, which takes a lot longer to go rancid (the purpose of the salt).
  3. Green Peppercorns:   the Italian chef who originated this recipe insisted it is very important to use green peppercorns, not black or white.
  4. Tomatoes:   If you don't have ripe flavorful tomatoes, used canned. A 28 oz can plus a 14 oz can should give you the right amount. You will have to simmer down longer than for fresh tomatoes.
  5. Salting:   The reason always given for salting Eggplant is to "drain off the bitter juices". I'm not at all convinced eggplants have "bitter juices", at least not here in North America, but the salting changes the cooking characteristics (they sponge up less oil), so do it anyway.
  6. Serving   In Italy, the pasta would be tumbled with the Butter and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, then the sauce. It would be served as a pasta course with additional Parmesan on the side. Since I am more likely to serve it as a main course, I do it as in the photo.
  7. Sex and the Eggplant:   The source book for this recipe subscribes to the absurd story that eggplants come in male and female (and you should buy the male). There may actually be a difference between eggplants with a "dot" flower scar and those with a "dash" scar, but it has nothing to do with sex. For details see our Working with Eggplants page.
  8. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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