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Fusilli with Eggplant, Tomato, and Basil

Fusilli with Eggplant, Tomato, and Basil

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Serves 4 to 6

Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb eggplant, sliced into bite-size pieces*
Water/broth (optional)
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 (28-oz) can peeled tomatoes, chopped or puréed
Fresh basil
1 lb fusilli pasta
1 1/2 cups parmigiano reggiano, grated

Optional additions: fresh mozzarella or feta (in lieu of Parmesan), capers, olives

*If buying large eggplant, buy up to 2 lbs in case you plan to cut away most of the bitter seeds in the base. (Why?)

Heat water to boil for the pasta.

In a large non-stick pan, heat several tablespoons of olive oil over a medium flame.
Add the sliced eggplant and toss to coat. Let cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until eggplant softens, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t burn (you may need to lower the heat after a few minutes). Add salt to taste. Eggplant absorbs a lot of liquid, so if you don’t want to add more olive oil, you can add water and/or vegetable or chicken stock to continue cooking. As long as the flame is not too high, you may also cover the pan to expedite cooking.

In a small pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for
2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a handful of chopped basil. Stir together and then lower the sauce to a simmer.

Once the eggplant is cooked through, and the tomato sauce has simmered for at least 5 minutes, combine the tomato sauce with the eggplant and continue to simmer.

When the pasta water is boiling, add 1 to 2 handfuls of coarse salt, stir to dissolve, and then add the pasta. When the pasta is al dente, discard pasta water and mix the pasta with the tomato-eggplant sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the Parmesan and garnish with more freshly chopped basil. Finish with extra virgin olive oil. Stir to combine and serve immediately.

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