Eggplant Pasta

Eggplant Pasta


I adore Eggplant Parmesan, but not so much the time it takes to make. So as we were sitting around trying to think of applications for the Deep Purple (eggplant) episode of Good Eats someone said: “noodles.” Can you make noodles out of eggplant? Heck yeah you can. And if you play your culinary cards right, you can get all the flavor of eggplant parm in just 60 seconds.

A note on purging: Eggplants are 95 percent water, and that water is laden with rather bitter-tasting alkaloids. This is why most of the eggplant served in America feels like Styrofoam and tastes like old coffee. By “curing” the eggplant with salt, much of this troublesome fluid can be drawn out. The result: better flavor and a meaty, toothsome texture that won’t remind you a bit of biting off a chunk of cooler.

When shopping for an eggplant, choose one with tight skin, no wrinkles or blemishes. It should be kind of heavy for its size, and when pressed with a finger the flesh will give slightly, but bounce back all the way.

Eggplant Pasta
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large eggplant, about 1 pound
  2. Kosher salt
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
  5. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  6. 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
  7. 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  8. 1 tablespoon basil, chiffonade
  9. 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  10. 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Peel the eggplant, leaving 1-inch of skin at the top and bottom. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. (I would use a mandolin for this.)
  2. Place the eggplant slices on a cooling rack set over the sink and generously sprinkle with kosher salt. Wait 15 minutes, flip, sprinkle again and wait another 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly under cool water and gently squeeze out excess water. Place on paper towels and pat dry, then cut the slices into 1/4-inch-wide strips so that they resemble linguine.
  3. Heat a 10-inch saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. When it shimmers, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and toss for 10 seconds. Add the eggplant and toss to coat. Add the tomato and toss for 15 to 20 seconds. Add the cream and toss for another 10 seconds. Finish with the bail and Parmesan. Transfer to a serving dish, top with breadcrumbs, toss and serve immediately.
ALTON BROWN http://altonbrown.com/

32 Comments

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  1. 2
    Alex Q

    I used a mandolin slicer initially to make linguini style strips. Then i layered the cuttings in a bowl covering with some kosher salt. After waiting about 15 minutes i drained the liquid and rinsed the strands using a collander. This reduces prep time and results in uniform strands. Instead of making a sauce I tried it with a good premade tomato sauce as well as tried the cooked eggplant with a premade pesto sauce. Both turned out well with minimal effort to prepare. These quicker versions will become part of my easy summer meals when eggplant is available from the garden. But i will still use the cream based sauce aporoach for a more decadent meal experience.

  2. 3
    dee

    As a passionate organic vegetable gardener, my experience is that small, very fresh eggplants have almost no seeds and are not the least bit bitter–I have never needed to salt my eggplants, and use them straight away . Choose smaller eggplants that are fresh, you’ll just need to buy a few more.

  3. 4
    Chris

    To those saying the dish is too salty, be sure you are using *kosher* salt. table salt is a much finer grain and would be too much for the dish. You could also try other processes of weeping the eggplant. one of my favorites is to leave the salt on the eggplant for a much shorter time and then microwave it in 30 second batches and squish it down using a paper towel. It gets a lot of the alkaloid compounds out, breaks down the cell walls that make the eggplant too stiff, and is a lot faster than traditional weeping.

  4. 5
    Vicki

    I, too love eggplant and followed the instructions to a T. But, it was too salty to my liking. I was bummed,however, I feel a little exonerated after reading the comments.

  5. 6
    Gloria

    Though this recipe seems simple, with it’s taking about 2 minutes to cook, it was a great deal more involved than an actual Eggplant Parmesan. Slicing the eggplant, salting the slices, salting the slices on the other side, waiting, rinsing, and then slicing the slicing into little noodle-like strips. Took more than an hour and a half. Even if I’d had room to have all of the slices of eggplant sitting with salt at one time, instead of serially, it would have taken an hour. Then, it was quick to fry up, plate and top with the Italian breadcrumbs.

    Unfortunately, it was too salty. Even though I’d take great care to rinse both sides, and press them dry with paper towels. Too salty, not enough “Eggplant Parm” flavor. Quite disappointing!

  6. 7
    Blanka

    I found the dish very salty, even after rinsing the eggplant. I ate it with plain pasta on the side and still found it unbearably salty. I was disappointed. Perhaps it needs to be soaked in plain water for a few minutes before final squeezing?

  7. 8
    Bob

    This was an awesome dish. Next time I’ll make the “noodles” a little bit smaller but that is preference rather than flavor. Male eggplants certainly made a difference in the texture. What a great way to use fresh summer veggies!

    • 10
      Matt Rudz

      I left the seeds in…if you’ve cut the eggplant thin via mandolin, and then in turn sliced it nice and thin ala linguine you don’t really notice the seeds at all.

      Also, I did find that I had to basically dry sautee the eggplant strips. The 2TB of oil is immediately soaked up by the eggplant. It took…3-5 minutes of stirring/flipping to get the eggplant cooked through and al dente (if you follow the recipe the eggplant tends to be raw or undercooked at most). And I used more garlic. Also, I would add the parmesan at the end, when it is on the plate (only so it does not adhere to the pan if you’re not stirring briskly enough).

  8. 12
    Michael

    I loved the idea of the recipe, but in actual practice the results were disappointing. For one, the eggplant browned considerably so the final dish was nowhere near as attractive as the beautiful, professional photo that’s shown on the blog post. However, the bigger issue was the saltiness. After sitting around with salt for 30 minutes, the eggplant slices became quite saturated with salt and made for an unbearably salty dish even though the outer salt was previously washed off.

  9. 21
    MaryAlice

    I did a lot of tweaking with this but I think I got the gist of it. And it tasted good. I was OK to the tomato and had to use canned, Italian, of course, because I ate up all my fresh tomatoes. I didn’t mention that I live miles from a market in the Coast Range of California where everything is on fire right now and we don’t go outside. I didn’t have cream, either, but I did have fresh basil on the porch, parmesan to grate. So it was great. Thanks.

    • 23
      ChefNicky

      Fruit that is heavy for its size is heavy because it is full of water. This is how you know it is ripe. As it ages it will begin to dry out inside, becoming lighter and taking on a more shriveled, wrinkly looking skin. Fruit that is wrinkled and not as heavy is a sign that it is past its prime.

    • 24
      Michael

      I’ve always felt that the whole “heavier than it looks” thing was more a joke to make fun of people who are bad at estimating weights.

  10. 25
    Chefjohn

    Marianne: the salt is too mainly draw out the alkaloids more so then the water. Once drawn to the surface a good rinse will wash away these bitter tasting akaloids and leave u with a product worthy of the name….Eggplant.

  11. 31
    Marianne

    Have always wondered about salting the eggplant, letting the liquids drain, and then rinsing it. Will the water not be absorbed back into the eggplant? Or is it like rinsing mushrooms? Inquiring minds need to know. Thank you!

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