We got some eggplants. (Is it eggplant even if it's plural, or eggplants?)
Some hot banana peppers.
Some sweet Cubanelle peppers.
And some cucumbers.
As you can tell by these photos, this is way more than 2 people can eat before things start to go mushy and bad. So we bagged up some stuff and Jim dropped a bunch off at his mom's for her and left a bag for Gina. I took some over to Trish.
Now, I'm not a big fan of eggplant. I never have been, but I can eat it if I have to. I haven't had any for a few years and thought I would give it another go. I dug this recipe out of a cookbook I have called Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin and thought with all the other ingredients it would taste nummy. It made quite a large casserole dish and it smelled pretty good.
I dished it up and thought it looked really good. But, alas, there was something about it that I just didn't like. I'm not sure if it was the eggplant or not, but I ended up just eating the noodles, some bread and salad. Jim liked it well enough which was good because he got to finish up the leftovers while I was working.
I would be maybe tempted to try this again minus the eggplant and maybe add tofu or just nothing.
Anyhow, I'll share the recipe in case someone else would like to try it and give their feedback.
BAKED PASTA SHELLS WITH EGGPLANT
A non-stick skillet allows you to fry eggplant with just a little oil rather than the generous amounts normally used to brown it. While the eggplant is frying and the pasta water is coming to a boil, use this time to prepare the remaining ingredients and you'll have it all ready to assemble by the time the shells are cooked.
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium (1¼ pounds) eggplant, peeled and diced (¾-inch dice)
½ pound small pasta shells
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1½ cups canned crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree)
2 tbsp. dry red wine
½ tsp. salt
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp. Dried)
½ diced roasted red peppers, store bought or freshly roasted
4 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups grated Mozzarella cheese
1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry half the eggplant, tossing often, until it begins to brown and appears somewhat translucent or shiny. Initially the eggplant will absorb the oil and look dry; don’t add any more oil, just keep frying and tossing until it’s juices are released. When done, the eggplant should be still somewhat firm because it will bake further in the oven. Don’t overcook it.
2. Remove the eggplant and place it in a shallow 2½ quart baking dish. Using 1 tbsp. of the oil, fry the second batch of eggplant in the same way.
3. When the pasta water is ready, drop in the shells. Cook until al dente, not mushy. Drain in a colander, then return to the pot.
4. Place the remaining 2 tbsp. of the oil in the skillet. Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook 1-2 minutes, just until fragrant but not coloured. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, salt, parsley, basil and red peppers. Cook 2 minutes, and remove from the heat.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6. Stir the eggplant, sauce and 2 tbsp. of the Parmesan cheese into the pasta shells. Place half of this mixture in the casserole dish that held the eggplant (you don’t need to dirty another dish this way). Top with the Mozzarella cheese. Spread the remaining pasta mixture on top, then sprinkle on the remaining 2 tbsp. of Parmesan cheese. Cover the dish with foil. (The casserole can be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance.)
7. Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove the foil and bake 5 more minutes.