03 April 2014
Spaghetti with all-the-veg sauce
AKA: "what to do with that eggplant you found in your crisper."
On the surface, this looks like a very ordinary plate of spaghetti--but when you get past the surface, you find all the vegetables in the land.
The real story is that I LOVE eggplant. Eggplant! And I love tomato sauces stuffed with not only eggplant, but nearly every other vegetable I can get my hands on. Onion and garlic are obvious choices; bell peppers of all colors are a natural match with tomato; carrots enhance the flavor while providing their own interesting little note of sweetness. So the other night I wanted to put all of these vegetables into a punchy, spicy, and still comforting tomato sauce, and to eat it over a giant plate of as much pasta as I could possibly eat.
There was only one problem: the pasta I wanted (and had lying around) was spaghetti. A chunky sauce really, really does not work with a long, thin pasta. What to do?
Obviously, the answer was the stick blender. A pureed sauce with all the veg in the land? Perfect for coating a massive pile of long, thin pasta. So I broke out half the crisper and got to work.
Spaghetti with all-the-veg sauce
red bell pepper
salt, pepper, red pepper flake, oregano, basil
fresh parsley to garnish
spaghetti, vermicelli, or other long pasta
The amounts here are all variable depending on what vegetables you have on hand. Use what you love.
Start by warming some olive oil in a wide saute pan. Add a chopped yellow onion and let it soften while you mince a handful of garlic cloves and peel and cube an eggplant. Peeling is important since we want the eggplant to really meld in here. I used an entire long, thin eggplant, but you can use as much as you like.
Add your garlic and eggplant to your pan along with a pinch of salt. Stir together and cook for a good ten minutes, or until your eggplant has turned golden brown and begun to collapse. If things start to stick to the pan, shy away from adding extra oil; eggplant will drink it up as fast as it can, and you'll end up with super-greasy sauce. Instead, a splash of water can help loosen things up.
Scrub and chop a carrot or two and dice up a red pepper. Add these to the pan, season with red pepper flake, oregano, and basil to taste, and mix it all together. Give the carrot and red pepper about five minutes to soften before you add your tomato.
Season with a bit more salt, bring to a simmer, and let cook for another ten minutes or so, or until your eggplant is completely cooked through. If your sauce starts to get too thick, add a little water. Otherwise, just stir things up occasionally.
While you're waiting, cook your pasta. Try to time it so it'll be done at approximately the same time as your sauce.
When your sauce is ready, turn off the heat and puree it with your immersion blender. Taste and correct seasonings, being sure to add some black pepper. Drain your finished pasta, add it to the sauce, and mix well. Keep warm over the lowest heat setting while you wash the pasta pot; this will give your pasta a chance to absorb some of the flavors of the sauce. Stir in a handful of fresh parsley, and you are done.
Serve yourself a gigantic serving of pasta, garnish with even more parsley, and eat with gusto. I had a very simple salad of butter lettuce on the side, for even more vegetable goodness.
How are you eating your spaghetti lately? Does anyone else love eggplant enough to melt one in its entirety into a vat of pasta sauce? I obviously do.