Spicy Baby Eggplant and Pasta Stew

This post is for my friend Diane, the queen of eggplants!  We have been friends for a couple of years and share garden space at the church garden.  She really knows how to grow eggplants, dozens on a single plant both years!

baby eggplants

This recipe is for dealing with those small eggplants you find yourself with when the frost strikes and all delicate plants die in the frosty fall air.  I pick them no matter how small and this is how we use them!  Yes, the eggplant recipe fest continues!

This stew is very suitable for the slow cooker although you could do it on the stove top, I used to cook them in a big pot and watch over it until the eggplants are tender but I really love being able to put it all in my crock pot and walk away for four hours.  No worries on burnt bottom of the pot syndrome when you use the slow cooker.

If you don’t have baby eggplants I think you could use Japanese eggplants cut into workable lengths.

I used to make it rather bland but I really enjoy this spicy version!

Spicy Baby Eggplants and Pasta Stew

Ingredients

7-12 small eggplants from tiny up to about six inches long

1-2 ounces hard parmesan cheese

1 32 oz can of tomato sauce

½ cup baby carrots

1 medium carrot diced

½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to your personal taste)

½ tsp. sea salt

1 large garlic clove, smashed

½ cup oil cured black olives

1-2 tbsp. capers

Directions:

Cut the Parmesan cheese into tiny wedges.  Trim off the top cap of the eggplant.  Cut 3-4 slashes in the side of each eggplant going in the direction from the cap to the bottom.

Put a wedge of cheese into each deep slash.  I only put 2 slashes in tiny eggplants, 3 in bigger ones and 4 in the largest eggplants.  Put the eggplants into your slow cooker. Top with the chopped onion and carrots.  I cut my carrots in half as they were kinda large. Top with the herbs/spices. Pour the tomato sauce over it all. I used a quart of homemade tomato sauce out of my freezer. If you use a can of plain tomato sauce you might want to add 1 tsp. dried basil and same amount of oregano.  Top with the garlic, olives, and capers.  Cover and cook in your slow cooker on high for 4 hours.

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Cook gluten free ziti, enough for how many people you are serving, and drain it one minute before the package directions say it will be done. Put it back in the now empty pot and add the eggplant mixture out of your crock pot.  Cook a minute stirring it all around the pot.  This allows the ziti to soak up some of the sauce and get a great authentic flavor.

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Serve in a low wide soup bowl with a good grating of Parmesan cheese on top.  If you have some gluten free rolls or fresh bread – heaven with this stew!

I like this stew leftover for lunch served over a microwaved baked potato. I use a knife to coarsely chop up the baby eggplants before heating them and pouring over the hot potato.

Note I used olives with pits but if you can find them pitted, all the better! If you are an olive hater, leave them out but they really add to the flavor.  Add more salt if you leave them out.

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Eggplant and Pasta Turrets Eggplant Fest Continues!

Spaghetti is an American classic.  I don’t make it often enough, especially since going gluten free.  That may change since I started to read Mario Batali’s newest cookbook “America Farm to Table”.  I cooked up a storm this past weekend making his eggplant and angel hair turrets.  What’s a turret?  A tower of yumminess!

farm to table cookbook

Having a surfeit of eggplants I was diving into all my eggplant recipes to determine the best way to utilize my crop of purple beauties. This one is a winner!

eggplants

We devoured it by candlelight on my back porch Saturday night, bees wax candles to be exact.  I thought for a moment that my man was going to lick his dinner plate! It was rewarding to see him so enraptured by my cooking.  I served it with a side of Italian sausage but it does stand alone as a complete entree.  We had a greens and tomato salad to complete this wonderful meal.

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I took this picture by candlelight!

I made a few changes so this is an adaptation of the recipe.  I advise reading it through twice so you don’t screw it up! I used less red pepper flakes than the original recipe; up it to a tsp. if you dare!  Yes, it uses instant potato flakes and they work fantastically to coat the eggplant slices.  Don’t be squeamish about the anchovies; they totally disappear into this spicy but lush sauce that coats the pasta and provides a base for the tower.   I used tomato sauce I had made the night before from the last fresh tomatoes as the base to build this extra spicy sauce which can hold its own with the eggplant headliner.  This recipe serves 4.

Eggplant and Pasta Turrets

4 tbsp. EVOL (Extra virgin olive oil)

2 large eggs

1 cup instant mashed potato flakes

1 large eggplant or 2 medium ones

½ cup onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 oil packed anchovy fillets plus 1 tbsp. of the packing oil

1 28 oz can of tomatoes, crushed by hand plus all the can juice or your own homemade tomato sauce, unseasoned

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

1  12 oz package gf spaghetti

½ cup shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil leaves

Eggplant: Place the eggs in a wide shallow bowl, beat well.  Put the potato flakes into a second shallow bowl or a wax paper covered plate.  Slice the eggplant into 1/3 inch slices.  Dip into the eggs, let excess drip off and dredge in the potato flakes.

Heat a large Teflon pan, add 2 tbsp EVOL.  Let heat to medium hot, add the eggplant slices, cook 2-3 minutes a side.  Place cooked eggplants on a paper towel lined plate.  Do a second batch of slices.  I put my cooked slices on a small baking sheet and put them into a 350 oven which I then turned off.  They stayed hot and I felt a tad more sure that they were fully cooked.

Make the sauce: heat the remaining EVOL in a large pot, add the onion, sauté until slightly softened; 2 minutes, add the sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, mashed up anchovy fillets, oil of fillets and the tomatoes.  Cook, stirring often; 12-15 minutes.

Pasta: Cook the pasta in a big pot of boiling salted water, I used Barilla by the way.  Drain it one minute before the package directions say it will be done. Save a cup of the pot water to thin the pasta.

Use the eggplant fry pan (wipe out the brown bits of crust) and ladle in 2-3 big scoops of the sauce and the pasta.  Cook one minute, turn off the stove and add the cheese, stir well.

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Construction of the turrets:

Place a big spoonful of sauce on each plate.  Top with an eggplant slice (I used my biggest slices for the bottom layer) and then top with a big twirl of the pasta mixture.  Top with another eggplant slice and then another pasta twirl.  Do this again.  Top with a dab of the red sauce.  You can also top it with some red pepper jelly but I didn’t go there!  I did sprinkle our towers with a few torn basil leaves. My towers were a tad sloppy Saturday but I made another one for Sunday lunch and that time I got the right amount of pasta between the eggplants and it looked amazing!

Dive in to this wild but yummy dish!  And check out this new cookbook; chock a block full of great relatively healthy recipes. This was one of the more complex ones; most seem fairly straight forward and sound darn delicious.