My mom loves eggplant and I don't mind it because I like it too. So when they told us we needed to bring a kind of sauce to share at the Eat Local Challenge Pasta Party we instantly thought of a eggplant and tomato spaghetti sauce. We started to look for one and found one in Lidia's Family Table. This recipe has the best of both vegetables and is really delicious. It is perfect on Nu Nooz pasta or on your own homemade pasta, add a little cheese, and eat. This recipe makes a lot of sauce so be prepared to use it!
5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes (blanched, seeded and peeled)
3 & 1/2 pounds firm eggplants
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped onions
2 tsp. Redmond Sea Salt
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried red hot pepper flakes
4 branches fresh basil with leaves
1. Process tomatoes through a food mill or sieve to remove the skin and seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Trim and peel the eggplants. Cut them into 3/4 inch chunks.
3. Put the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and 1 teaspoonful of salt. Set over medium heat, stir well and cook until the onions are softened, about 7-10 minutes. Only cook until the onions are soft, stirring frequently and adjusting the heat to avoid browning.
4. When the onions are softened, push them to the sides of the pan and clear a space in the middle of the pan. Place the chopped garlic in the middle of the pan, stir within this middle to caramelize for about 1 minute. Stir the onions into the garlic and then add 2 tablespoonfuls of water into the pan and stir everything together. Cook until liquid has evaporated.
5. Add the eggplant chunks to the pan and add additional 1 teaspoonful of salt. Stir together with the onions and garlic until all chunks are coated. Cook over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until the eggplant is soft but still retains it shape. Add more water only if the pan gets dry and the eggplant begins to brown.
6. Pour in the tomatoes and their juice into the pan. Rinse the tomato bowl with 2-3 cups of water and add to the pan. Sprinkle with the red hot pepper flakes and additional salt and pepper to taste. Sink the basil branches into the liquid. Raise heat to medium and allow to come to a boil.
7. Lower heat to keep at a low simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8. Uncover the pan and continue to cook at a low simmer until sauce is reduced. Stir occasionally to keep eggplant from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook uncovered for additional 1-2 hours or until at desired consistency (we like our sauce VERY reduced). Remove the basil branches and serve with your favorite pasta or ravioli.
adapted from Lidia's Family Table
--add meatballs in step #5
--saute sausage along with the onions in step #3