We have all been talking about how excited we are about the seasonal ingredients available to cook with. Pumpkin was one and I made Spiced Pumpkin Butter, another was eggplant.
Now I was never an eggplant kind of girl. I guess mostly because my mother never cooked with eggplant so I never had any exposure to it. Well I should say I never had any good exposure to it. I have had a few nasty versions of Eggplant Parmesan that were so slimy with oil they were barely identifiable as anything remotely edible, let alone eggplant. So I guess in the back of my mind I equated eggplant with slime (eewwwww right?).
Move forward in my life to when Kevin and I got together. Even though we have been together for almost 3 1/2 years, I am learning new things about him all of the time. He loves so many vegetables! Who knew? I have been used to picky eaters so having this wide open new world of vegetables available to me to experiment with, well you can imagine I am like a kid in a candy store!
The first time I made this dish we both really liked it. It was a Rachael Ray recipe, and although I love her to death, I knew there were parts of it that I would like to change. So I went to work and came up with this version that we both LOVED. I ate leftovers for breakfast the next day and Kevin had it as a “snack: after work for a couple of days. SO I guess it is safe to say that this will be a meal I will be making over and over again.
This is a great dish for people that aren’t too sure if they like eggplant to start out with. Eggplant does not take over this dish it merely is a part of the supporting cast of characters. So I do believe it is safe to say that even a non-eggplant person would enjoy this meal. Miss Picky Pants even ate it and said it was good as well as my father (who tends to be a bit on the picky side himself). So let’s get cooking!
Your full cast of characters
Peel the eggplant with a vegetable peeler in strips leaving a strip unpeeled between
Chop your eggplant in cubes about 1/8″ and sprinkle with salt to help draw out the moisture
grate your onion
Chop your thyme
and dice the Fresno chili. Go ahead and leave the seeds in it wont be too spicy I promise
Yes that is garlic and a LOT of it
brown your ground pork
Add the onion, garlic, thyme, chili pepper, and the fennel seed
stir to combine and let it hang out a bit so the flavors can get happy together
using a clean kitchen towel, wrap up the eggplant and twist and squeeze the excess liquid from the eggplant
after you add the eggplant to the pork and deglaze with the white wine, add your cream and stir
get your parsley ready for the party
Stir in your starchy cooking water and parsley, salt and pepper to taste
And Voila!! A gorgeous pasta dish that will make an eggplant lover out of you
Pasta with Pork and Eggplant
- 1 medium-size firm eggplant, a little over a pound or so in weight
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon fennel pollen or seed, 1/3 palmful
- 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 small onion, grated or very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 1 chili pepper – Italian red cherry or Fresno, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- a generous handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 pound short-cut pasta, whatever shape you like
- Parmesan cheese
Peel half the skin off the eggplant. Dice very finely into 1/8-inch pieces.
Sprinkle with salt and reserve.
Place a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta. Add pasta and cook
according to package directions. Reserve a half cup of the starchy pasta
water for the sauce.
Heat the olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat.
Add pork and lightly brown while finely crumbling it into tiny bits. Season
with fennel, salt,
pepper, garlic, onion, thyme and the chili pepper.
Squeeze any liquid from the eggplant then stir it into the pork. Cook about
10-12 minutes, stirring frequently until eggplant is tender. Deglaze with
stir a minute then stir in cream and simmer over low heat while pasta cooks.
Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce, adding liquid to combine. Stir in
parsley. Toss 1-2 minutes.
Serve in shallow bowls topped with grated Parmesan.