This summer, I’m all about the skillet. I’m currently subletting a small apartment in New York, and without my usual cabinets full of kitchenware, I’ve turned to the trusty skillet for all my culinary needs. I’ve been baking cookies in it, using it as a mixing bowl, and now, making a wonderful summer pasta dish!
As dramatic as this may sound, I feel I’m doing my summertime meals (and my friends who eat them) an injustice if I don’t take advantage of the season’s fresh produce, which is why I love that both eggplant and cherry tomatoes are thrown into this dish. Caramelizing the onions brings out their rich, sweet flavor, and the addition of fresh basil keeps everything light. Baked pastas and lasagnas, move aside. Skillet pasta is taking the spotlight!
Serves 3 for a hearty main, 4 as a side dish
- 1 large eggplant
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- kosher salt
- 1/2 lb. whole-wheat penne pasta (half of a 16-oz box)
- 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce or pasta sauce (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 handful basil leaves
- grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for sprinkling on top (omit for a vegan dish)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the eggplant into small cubes, toss lightly in olive oil, and spread on a baking sheet or dish. Roast the eggplant for 20-25 minutes, or until browned and tender.
- While the eggplant is in the oven, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of kosher salt. Cook the pasta according to the instructions (mine took 10-11 minutes).
- Peel and thinly slice the onion, then peel and mince the garlic.
- Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and let caramelize over medium-low heat, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute more, then add the roasted eggplant and tomato sauce (amount of sauce can be adjusted depending on how sauce-y you like your pasta).
- Drain the pasta and add to the simmering sauce. Finely chop the basil leaves and add them to the saucepan, along with the cherry tomatoes. Keep warm and stir constantly until everything is heated through. If desired, add a handful of grated Parmesan just before serving.
Recipe heavily adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters