penne rigate, grilled eggplant, chiles, lemon, mint


Vegan, by happenstance.  And also very good.

As with most meals, and especially the most simple, it’s absolutely essential to have great ingredients. Here that meant ‘artisanal’ (although, in fact, not made by hand), bronze die pasta from Southern Italy, the kind whose surface looks like it’s been very roughly sanded.   There were also the Japanese eggplant, the best I’ve ever had, and I was introduced to them by Nevia, of Bodhitree Farm.  The garlic was so fresh it was actually somewhat juicy.  Finally, I had forgotten to pick up mint at the Greenmarket, but Eataly’s vegetables are generally pretty super, often pretty local, and one of the best things about that food and restaurant emporium.

The first paragraph below is long, and heavy with my usual running sentence instructions (here, for a change, using two running sentences), but the cooking process is actually pretty simple.

  • three medium Japanese eggplant from Bodhitree Farm, hand-sliced to about 1/4 inch in thickness, coated with olive oil and grilled on top of a cast iron, double-burner pan, seasoned with salt and black pepper, cut into smaller portions (I used a good kitchen shears this time), and set aside in a bowl while the rest of the sauce was prepared:  Two sliced fresh garlic cloves from Lucky Dog Organic introduced into a deep enameled pan, cooking them in olive oil over low-to-medium heat until golden, adding some good crushed chile peppers and the bowl of eggplant which had been set aside, mixing everything, still over a flame, checking the seasoning, then 12 ounces from a package of Setaro Penne Rigate from Buon Italia which had been cooked al dente (some of the water reserved near the end) and drained, tossed into the pan, before about a tablespoon of lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice were added, and some of the reserved pasta water as well (enough to keep everything moist), the pasta mix finally removed from the heat and nearly half of a cup of mint from Eataly, torn into pieces, stirred in
  • the wine was a white Italian, Le Salse Verdicchio di Matelica 2014
  • the music was Giovanni Paisiello’s, ‘Le finte contesse’