I had to continue on this prickly pasta theme, because I’m still a little bit shocked that this dish worked. I didn’t even take prep pictures, thinking that this could just be my little secret. Not that I should have been surprised — I’m not exactly the first one to roast an eggplant whole, skin and all, only to scoop the flesh out, doctor it with a bit of olive oil, and discover exactly what I had been missing for all these years. I think my faith in eggplant was lacking a bit, after the million spongy and, frankly, kind of gross eggplant dishes I’ve managed to assemble in recent years. And yet, I kept on buying them. Good thing, don’t you think?
This dish is my last recipe’s less virtuous cousin. It’s inexact and utterly malleable, depending on your tastes. But I do think you should try it, with or without the nettles. Again, a bit of arugula, thrown in at the last minute, provides the green counterpoint the silky eggplant flesh needs.
Prickly eggplant pasta
- Flesh from one Sicilian eggplant, grapefruit-sized, roasted whole, skin and all, at 350°F for an hour, or until soft. Make sure to prick holes in the skin prior to baking.
- 2 T. olive oil
- Paprika, to taste
- 2-3 c. nettles or other leafy greens (arugula, spinach, kale)
- handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half.
- 1-2 oz. ricotta salata
- salt and pepper
- Enough organic, whole wheat pasta for 2 people
Put the pasta water on over high heat.
Mix the eggplant flesh with the olive oil and paprika, and heat over medium low heat in a heavy frying pan. Add the nettles and cherry tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the nettles are soft. In the meantime, start cooking the pasta in the water (which should be salted — ~2-3 T. may seem like a lot, but it’ll make a difference in the flavor of your dish). If you need to add more liquid to the nettle mixture, use some of the pasta water, or add a bit more oil (or some combination of the two, really). Add salt and pepper to taste.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with the nettle mixture, add the ricotta salata, and serve immediately.