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Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant and Mozzarella

April 6, 2011

Last night’s dinner is one of my favorite takes on a light, fresh pasta dish.  Using fresh produce and simple flavors, you end up with a dinner that is satisfying but not overfilling.  It doesn’t hurt that it is the perfect blend of natural, spicy, and salty flavors.  It’s a dish I would absolutely recommend when you are short on time and looking for something that won’t leave you feeling stuffed.

 

Penne With Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella
Yields: 4 Servings

1/2 pound Penne pasta (1/2 box)
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 medium Eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds, cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
1/2 pound Cherry tomatoes (halved)
2 Garlic clove (sliced)
1/4 teaspoon Crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/2 pound Mozzarella (cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces)
1/4 cup Fresh mint (leaves torn)

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add the eggplant. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, garlic, red pepper, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing, until the tomatoes soften, 2 to 3 minutes. 5. Add the tomato mixture to the pasta, along with the mozzarella and reserved cooking water. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with the mint. 

Kate’s Tips

When I am cooking this dish for just my husband and I, I use Japanese eggplant and not a large eggplant.  It is the perfect portion for 2 servings.  Last night I used a Roma tomato since I had one on hand, but cherry tomatoes pack a little more flavor. 

I would recommend cooking the eggplant for slightly less time than the recipe indicates in step 3.  My recommendation is to cook them just until they start to soften and then add the tomato and spices immediately.  I’ve found that allowing them to cook for 8-10 minutes results in them being too mushy once the tomatoes have cooked.  It only takes about 20 minutes to put together so it is a perfect weeknight option.

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