Cross-Cultural Pasta Night

Tonight I was definitely in the mood for pasta.  It turned out to be slightly cross-cultural.  I used a Japanese eggplant, southern Italian vegetables and pasta, and Greek Mzithra cheese.  It’s essentially a riff on a Calabrian pasta dish with eggplant and zucchini and ricotta salata.  However, the large eggplant I had in the refrigerator had seen better days, so I had to resort to the long, thin Asian kind, a perfectly good substitute.  I rarely buy ricotta salata (too salty for my wife, of course — not to mention made from cow’s milk).  However, this dish calls for a little salty sharpness to counterpoint the sweetness of the vegetables and tomato sauce, and I had a small amount of Mzithra, a Greek sheep’s milk cheese which Hank had introduced me to a few years ago.  The signature dish for that cheese is Spaghetti and Mzithra in a Brown Butter Sauce.  Superb, but beyond the Pale for mostly-vegans.  One final note: I decided a side of vegetables would be salubrious, so I boiled some fresh kale from the farmer’s market yesterday, and served it with just olive oil and salt.

  • cut eggplant into 3/4″ chunks
  • cut zucchini into 3/4″ pieces
  • salt zucchini for 1/2 hour, drain and wipe dry
  • sauté eggplant and a little garlic in olive oil until lightly browned; remove to a bowl
  • in same pan, sauté zucchini until lightly browned
  • add eggplant back to pan with zucchini, add salt and pepper, and sauté until almost tender
  • add 1/4 white wine and boil off
  • add about 1/2 can of chopped best Italian tomatoes with their juices
  • simmer until sauce thickens
  • meanwhile, boil water with salt, add kale, cook until tender
  • remove kale, return water to high heat
  • boil penne pasta (125 gm. for me tonight and lunch tomorrow) until al dente
  • add pasta to the sauce, along with a little of the pasta water
  • when pasta and sauce have merged, top with grated Mzithra, correct salt and pepper, add olive oil on top
  • serve with a side of kale
  • and a few glasses of Chianti

zucchini eggplant tomato-27 pasta water boiling-27 add penne to veggies-31 kale as a side dish-27 stir pasta into sauce-32 pasta sauce closeup-32 pasta, sauce and Mizithra-35 Terra di Seta-01 Terra di Seta back label K P-02


Note to myself for future reference: this Chianti is supposedly the only completely Kosher winery in Italy.  Remember for next Passover.

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