Eggplant Pasta Alla Calabrese

Eggplant Pasta Alla Calabrese - Vincenzo's Plate

3 Large Eggplant
Extra virgin olive oil
1 Red or Yellow Onion, chopped fine
4 Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed (separated)
Red Pepper Flakes to taste (optional)
1 700ml bottle Italian Passata
1 15oz Can Peeled Tomatoes
1 Bunch Fresh basil
4 heaped Tbsp of Breadcrumbs
4 heaped Tbsp of Grated Pecorino cheese
Salt & Pepper

500g spaghetti (Or other Long Pasta)

1. Eggplant pasta requires tender eggplants. If you are able to find smaller ones that are tender, buy a large quantity to make up for the size.
2. Peel the skin off the eggplants and discard.
3. Cut the eggplant into strips, approx. 1/2" thick.
4. Cut these in half from long side to long side, then into long strips and put them into a colander.
5. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the eggplants and mix this through using your hands.
6. Put a large plate on top of the eggplant, then put a weight (eg: kettle filled with water) on top, a large bowl underneath the colander and leave to the side.
7. Finely chop the onion and garlic cloves.
8. Turn the stove on to a medium heat and warm a generous drizzle of EVOO along with half of the chopped garlic and all the onion.
9. Stir the onion and garlic until it starts to turn golden. Add ground pepper and red pepper flakes (optional).
10. Blend the tin of peeled tomatoes, add to your passata, mix well, and pour it into the saucepan with your garlic and onion.
11. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt into the sauce, mix it using a wooden spoon then leave to simmer for 30 minutes on a low heat.
12. While the sauce is cooking, lift the weights and plate off the eggplant and remove the bowl from underneath.
13. Squeeze a handful of eggplant at a time into a bowl or kitchen sink to remove excess water, placing them into a dry bowl.
14. Place a medium size saucepan on the stove at a low heat, drizzle a generous amount of EVOO.
15. Add remaining garlic and stir, letting it sizzle.
16. Place the eggplant into the saucepan and mix gently, simmering for around 5 minutes or until soft.
17. Test whether the eggplant is tender using a fork and if so, turn the fry pan off.
18. Add the eggplant to the sauce and mix through so it is completely covered.
19. Cook the eggplant pasta sauce for another 15-20 minutes, checking it every so often, gently mixing it.
20. Boil the water and cook your pasta according to packet instructions for time.
21. Add a few fresh leaves of fresh basil to the eggplant pasta sauce.
22. Combine the pecorino and breadcrumbs, pouring it over the top of the sauce. Cover with a lid and leave while you strain the pasta.
23. Scoop 2 x generous serves of fresh sauce into the pot (that had the pasta in it) and layer half of your pasta on top, add more sauce, the rest of the pasta then cover again.
24. Add a few more basil leaves, then gently mix the eggplant pasta so everything combines really well and serve.
25. Always add extra sauce on top of each serving – the eggplant is the hero so scoop up a generous amount!

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