There are many ways to combine eggplant and pasta. Some hounds salt and drain eggplant before proceeding; others don’t bother. The smaller Japanese and Italian varieties tend not to be bitter, and so needn’t be salted, say some. Other hounds salt and drain not to alter flavor, but to draw out excess water, making the eggplant firmer before roasting, grilling, or sautéing. They recommend rinsing the eggplant and squeezing dry in paper towels to avoid excess saltiness in the finished dish.
greygarious is a fan of CHOW’s Eggplant-Pepper Tomato Sauce. “I start it by searing diced pancetta—just an ounce per quart of sauce,” she says. “It has so much flavor that the sauce tastes meaty. If I have dried mushrooms, I cook those into the sauce as well.”
“Marcella Hazan’s eggplant and ricotta sauce is a winner,” says sushigirlie. Rigatoni with eggplant and pine nut crunch “has become my new eggplant favorite,” says angelsmom; she uses only half a pound of mozzarella in it.
There are also hounds who, rather than pairing eggplant with pasta, use eggplant instead of pasta. mcf uses Alton Brown’s recipe for eggplant “noodles.” “I make the noodles as thin as possible, cook them longer than the recipe calls for, and I add a lot more pepper flakes and basil because it’s a bit bland, but it’s a great basic technique and recipe,” she says. Other hounds slice eggplant in thin horizontal strips, roast or grill them, and use them in place of noodles in their favorite ricotta-based lasagne recipes. enbell likes this slow-cooker version.
Discuss: eggplant pasta