With the garden production winding down, there’s been very little in my little hay-bale heaven to harvest. Except for eggplants.
Typically, I get 2 to 3 decent sized aubergines out of my one plant… and that makes me happy. This year, I decided to plant 4 plants:
2 Gretel White Pencil Eggplants – similar to Asian style aubergines, only less sweet and a firmer bite
1 Black Beauty – the green grocer standard you find in the market
1 Juliette – a striped, amethyst jewel-toned, egg shaped aubergine
The Juliette fell early victim to the overly wet spring and cut worms devastated the remaining 3 plants off and on throughout the summer, so I really wasn’t expecting much of a harvest at all. However come August, I was awash in eggplant. I ate Eggplant Parmesan until my ears bled. I made casseroles and terrines. I named them and drew Sharpie faces on them… I gave them away by the dozen… and still my plants produced. Even now (in late October) there are another 2 Black Beauty and a handful of Gretel ripening on the ready.
So, what do you do when you’ve exhausted your repertoire of recipes? You go digging for something new.
I was prowling through one of my Neapolitan cookbooks and stumbled on Melanzane al Funghetto or Eggplant Mushrooms. And – depending on whatever reference book I was looking at it refers to either cooking aubergines in the style of mushrooms… or cutting and cooking them so they look like little mushrooms. Either way, neither taste very much like a fungi.
It’s typically served as a side dish or as an antipasto or as a topping for a bruschetta, but I was more in the mood for pasta and opted to toss it into some broken spaghetti.
Melanzane al Funghetto
Although the additional ingredients will vary from recipe to recipe, there is usually the eggplant, another textural component (I’ve used ripe olives) and a salty/tart component like capers or lemon rind. I’ve chosen to go a more regional approach and used anchovies – and I tossed in a little Feta… since it was pasta
Serves 2 to 4
2 Cups Eggplant (any Variety – I’ve used a mixture of the 2 I have) Cut into 1″ Cubes
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic
1 – 3 ounce Can Anchovie Fillets – Drained
1/2 Cup Ripe Olives – Pitted and Sliced
1/2 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Tablespoon Parsley – Minced
2 Cups Broken Spaghetti
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese – Cubed
1/2 Cup Blanched Sugar Snap Peas
Black Pepper ~or~ red chili flakes to taste
Break the pasta into 2″ pieces and cook in salted water according to package instructions – Drain
Mince the garlic and place it and the oil in a skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat and add in the cubed eggplant – Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the olives and saute another 2 minutes. Push the vegetables to one side and add in the anchovies – mashing them into the oil in the pan. Once the anchovies have dissolved, incorporate into the vegetables. Saute another 3 minutes. Just before removing, Toss in the Scallions, feta cubes and peas, and fold into the vegetable mixture
Remove from the heat and stir in the drained pasta
Heap into bowls and serve.