Saturday, October 13, 2007

Extremely garlicky baked eggplant and penne

This is a slightly altered recipe from Deborah Madison's The Savory Way. It's one of the nicest things you can do with eggplant, and satisfies any craving for mac & cheese you may have. Like mac & cheese, it's also a wonderful thing to eat the next day, fried in butter. Which is what I'm having for lunch as I type this.

There's a lot to do, but it's all pretty easy.

0. Cut your eggplant (one big one or two small ones) into 1/4" dice. Do the salt-and-drain treatment if you're afraid your eggplant might be bitter. I never do this. I'll take the risk of bitter eggplant over the certainty of oversalting any day.

1. The sauce. Separate, peel, and chop half a head's worth of garlic cloves. Say six or seven cloves. Seven. No, make it eight. Combine the garlic with a half-teaspoon of salt in a mortar and use the pestle to bash it into a paste. Combine the garlic paste with two cups of milk. Set aside.

2. Make a roux with three tbsp. butter and two tbsp. flour. Cook two or three minutes, then whisk in the milk-and-garlic mixture and a big pinch of grated nutmeg. Add three thyme branches and a handful of chopped fresh basil. (Lacking fresh herbs, I substituted 2 tsp. herbes de Provence. The nutmeg, though, is essential.) Bring this to a simmer, cover, and let it cook on low heat for half an hour (stirring it occasionally) while you cook the pasta and the eggplant. The smell while this stuff is cooking will be indescribably glorious.

3. Bring a big pot of salty water to a boil, cook 8 oz. of penne in it, drain the penne and rinse it in cold water, and set aside. (The original recipe calls for rigatoni, but I like the texture of the penne better; the rigatoni gets too mushy for my taste.)

4. At the same time, brown your eggplant in olive oil. Do it in batches so it browns and doesn't steam. Set aside.

5. Grate a cup of parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano.

6. Heat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a 3- or 4-qt baking dish.

7. When the sauce is done, mix half the cheese into it. Mix the eggplant, the pasta, two-thirds of the sauce, and a good dose of black pepper together in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Bake for 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 or so minutes before digging in.

(And thanks, Lori, for the beautiful eggplant.)


T said...

Mmmm, might have to try that on a night when Jenny's eating elsewhere! It sounds fabulous and cozy.

a hungry cubicle-dweller said...

Ugh... I'm slavering all over my keyboard.

Orion said...


Rob said...

You guys have the Savory Way, right? Awesome cookbook. No herbivore should have to do without it.

T said...

Of course! I think Ms. O gave it to me one Christmas, as a matter of fact....

An Briosca Mor said...

Do non-herbivores have to content themselves with reading The Unsavory Way?