Pasta alle Melanzane: A Summertime Recipe

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This Sicilian eggplant pasta dish is a hit!

Ingredients (serves 4 – 6 people):
4 – 6 Medium-sized eggplants
Extra virgin olive oil, q. b. (“quanto basta” or “as much as you need”)
½ C. Sunflower seed oil (or other vegetable oil)
Parmesan cheese, q. b.
Salt, q. b
Penne or rigatoni pasta (1 lb. of pasta for every 5 people)

Sauce Ingredients:
2-3 lbs. Very ripe Roma tomatoes
2-3 Garlic cloves
1 White or yellow onion
Extra virgin olive oil, approx. ½ C.
Generous handful of basil leaves

Directions:
Cover sliced eggplants with water, adding 2-3 handfuls of salt (sale grosso or big salt, not fine salt). Use a heavy kitchen object to weight down the eggplants so they stay under water. Let eggplants sit in water for about 30 minutes, leaching out the bitterness. Drain eggplants and rinse twice (rinsing all salt out). Pat dry. Cover stainless steel frying pan with olive oil and add vegetable oil too so that the oil is about 1” deep for better frying. When oil is hot and sizzling, slide in eggplant slices. Slices should not overlap but should fill pan. As a slice is browned, lift out with a fork and immediately slide in another slice so that oil does not smoke and burn. As eggplant are fried, set on paper so that the oil is absorbed. You can make the tomato sauce while you are frying the eggplants. To do so, first wash the tomatoes. Fill a large basin with water, put in the washed tomatoes and squash the tomatoes under water so that all seeds are left behind. Slice onion and garlic cloves. Put crushed tomatoes and generous amount of basil in large stainless-steel sauce pan. Add onion, garlic cloves, about ½ C. or more Extra virgin olive oil and heat. Sauce should simmer about 30 minutes until most of the water of tomatoes evaporates. Add salt, q. b. Puree’ the sauce in a food mill. Heat this tomato sauce gently as you cook the pasta in salted boiling water. Drain pasta, add sauce and top with friend eggplants. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve. Buon appetito!