Pasta alle Melanzane: A Summertime Recipe

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This Sicilian eggplant pasta dish is a hit!

Pasta alle Melanzane (for 4 – 6 people)

4-6 Medium-sized eggplants
Extra virgin olive oil, q. b. (“quanto basta” or “as much as you need”)
½ C. Sunflower seed oil (or other vegetable oil)
Parmesan cheese, q. b.
Salt, q. b
Penne or rigatoni pasta (1 lb. of pasta for every 5 people)

For the sauce:
2-3 lbs. Very ripe Roma tomatoes
2-3 Garlic cloves (or more!)
1 white or yellow onion
½ C. Extra virgin olive oil
Generous handful of basil leaves

Cover sliced eggplants with water, adding about 2-3 handfuls of salt (“sale grosso” or “big salt,” not fine salt). Use a heavy kitchen object to weight down the eggplants so that they stay under water. Let eggplants sit in water for about 30 minutes, leaching out the bitterness. Drain eggplants and rinse all salt out. Pat dry. Heat 1” of olive oil in stainless steel frying pan. Brown eggplant slices. Cool eggplant slice on paper to absorb excess oil.

Fill a large basin with water, add washed tomatoes and squash the tomatoes under water so that all seeds are left behind. Slice onion and garlic cloves. Put crushed tomatoes and generous amount of basil in large, stainless steel sauce pan. Add onion, garlic cloves, and ½ C. (more if needed) Extra virgin olive oil and heat. Sauce should simmer about 30 minutes until most of the water evaporates. Add salt, q. b. Puree’ the sauce. Heat sauce gently as you cook the pasta in salted, boiling water. Drain pasta, add sauce and top with fried eggplants. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve. Buon appetito!