Warm-weather eggplant abounds in August adding a bonanza of flavor, nutritional goodness and texture to this rich, healthy marinara sauce.
1 pound penne rigate, rigatoni or spaghetti
1 medium or 3 small eggplant
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves minced garlic
1 large yellow onion, small dice
1/2 red, yellow or green bell pepper, small dice
2 or 3 teaspoons oregano to taste
1 teaspoon ground thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
1 teaspoon cane sugar
1/2 cup red wine
28 ounces crushed or stewed tomatoes
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste
1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
Shaved or grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Asiago cheese for topping
1. Peel, dice and salt eggplant. Set aside 20 minutes.
2. Heat a saucepan over medium to medium high heat. Add oil and garlic. When the garlic speaks by sizzling, add onions and sautee' until they start to tan.
4. While onion is caramelizing, rinse and dry eggplant. When onions caramelize, add eggplant and bell pepper. Sautee' until tender.
5. Add tomatoes, wine and seasoning. Sugar is optional.
6. Simmer on low heat until all ingredients are well married. Adjust seasoning to taste before tossing with pasta.
7. Cook pasta according to package directions. When al dente, drain and add pasta sauce, tossing until well mixed.
Serve immediately topped with grated cheese.
Chef's note: In season from August to October, eggplant is rich in antioxidants and an excellent source of phytonutrients believed to reduce serum cholesterol and lessen free radical damage in joints, which is a primary factor in rheumatoid arthritis. It's a healthy, low-calorie alternative to ground beef in marinara.