A great pasta dish to make during tomato season (now). Adapted from How to Cook Everything.
Pasta with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Bread Crumbs
Makes: About 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes
The trick here is incorporating crisp-cooked bread crumbs at the last minute. You must use fresh bread crumbs, most pieces about the size of a pea.
1 /4cup extra virgin olive oil (1/2cup if you’re omitting the pancetta)
1 /4cup chopped pancetta or bacon (optional)
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 small to medium eggplant (about 12 ounces), cut into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks
6 small or 3 medium tomatoes (about 12 ounces), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 teaspoons thinly sliced garlic, to taste
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta
Chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves for garnish
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the meat if you’re using it, stirring occasionally, until just about crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring almost constantly, until nicely browned, 3 to 5 minutes; sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper as they cook. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the remaining oil.
2. Add the eggplant, stirring occasionally and sprinkling with salt and pepper, until browned and tender, about 15 minutes. When it’s done, begin cooking the pasta in the boiling water until tender but not mushy. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the eggplant; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. When the pasta is done, drain it and toss with the eggplant mixture, the bread crumbs, and the meat if you used it. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with basil, and serve.