What’s for Dinner?
Penne with Grilled Eggplants
This smoky rich tasting eggplant are a perfect partner for this sweet Sicilian-style tomato sauce.
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, very finely minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 twenty-eight ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthwise, 1/2 inch thick
1 pound penne or other short pasta
1/2 cup ricotta salata*, coarsely grated
12 – 15 large fresh basil leaves
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and stirring occasionally, cook for about 15 minutes until very soft. It’s important to cook the onion slowly for a long time to get a nice caramelized sweet taste to your sauce. Add the garlic and continue cooking until softened, about 2 minute. Stir in the tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook covered for 15 minutes.
2. Drizzle a baking sheet with oil and arrange the eggplant slices onto the sheet so they don’t overlap. Drizzle the eggplant with oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Broil until tender, about 3 minutes per side. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook according to the package directions. Drain.
4. To serve, spoon the sauce on the penne and top with the eggplant, ricotta salata and basil leaves.
*Ricotta salata is ricotta that has been slated to remove the moisture. It’s chalk-white and has a nice mellow flavor. Try it. It’s available in most supermarkets in the specialty cheese section. If you can’t find it, substitute any hard grating cheese, like Parmesan or Romano.