Eggplant's called "the king of vegetables" for a good reason. It allows you to create a hearty sauce without meat. The chunky sauce is compatible with a toothsome and visually interesting pasta, such as long fusilli or perciatelli. I especially like to garnish the servings with dollops of creamy goat cheese; everyone loves the flavor, texture, and aroma as it melts into the eggplant sauce.
12 ounces long fusilli
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound unpeeled eggplant, cut into 2-inch-long, ¼-inch-thick, by ½-inch-wide strips; about 4 cups
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
½ cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste Freshly ground pepper, toasted pine nuts, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add the fusilli. When the water returns to a boil, stir occasionally to separate the fusilli. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes, or according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is nearly tender and lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium; stir in the tomatoes, capers, oregano, pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
When the pasta is done, drain well. Transfer to shallow pasta bowls; top the servings with the eggplant sauce.