Spaghetti is an American classic. I don’t make it often enough, especially since going gluten free. That may change since I started to read Mario Batali’s newest cookbook “America Farm to Table”. I cooked up a storm this past weekend making his eggplant and angel hair turrets. What’s a turret? A tower of yumminess!
Having a surfeit of eggplants I was diving into all my eggplant recipes to determine the best way to utilize my crop of purple beauties. This one is a winner!
We devoured it by candlelight on my back porch Saturday night, bees wax candles to be exact. I thought for a moment that my man was going to lick his dinner plate! It was rewarding to see him so enraptured by my cooking. I served it with a side of Italian sausage but it does stand alone as a complete entree. We had a greens and tomato salad to complete this wonderful meal.
I made a few changes so this is an adaptation of the recipe. I advise reading it through twice so you don’t screw it up! I used less red pepper flakes than the original recipe; up it to a tsp. if you dare! Yes, it uses instant potato flakes and they work fantastically to coat the eggplant slices. Don’t be squeamish about the anchovies; they totally disappear into this spicy but lush sauce that coats the pasta and provides a base for the tower. I used tomato sauce I had made the night before from the last fresh tomatoes as the base to build this extra spicy sauce which can hold its own with the eggplant headliner. This recipe serves 4.
Eggplant and Pasta Turrets
4 tbsp. EVOL (Extra virgin olive oil)
2 large eggs
1 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1 large eggplant or 2 medium ones
½ cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 oil packed anchovy fillets plus 1 tbsp. of the packing oil
1 28 oz can of tomatoes, crushed by hand plus all the can juice or your own homemade tomato sauce, unseasoned
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 12 oz package gf spaghetti
½ cup shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Eggplant: Place the eggs in a wide shallow bowl, beat well. Put the potato flakes into a second shallow bowl or a wax paper covered plate. Slice the eggplant into 1/3 inch slices. Dip into the eggs, let excess drip off and dredge in the potato flakes.
Heat a large Teflon pan, add 2 tbsp EVOL. Let heat to medium hot, add the eggplant slices, cook 2-3 minutes a side. Place cooked eggplants on a paper towel lined plate. Do a second batch of slices. I put my cooked slices on a small baking sheet and put them into a 350 oven which I then turned off. They stayed hot and I felt a tad more sure that they were fully cooked.
Make the sauce: heat the remaining EVOL in a large pot, add the onion, sauté until slightly softened; 2 minutes, add the sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, mashed up anchovy fillets, oil of fillets and the tomatoes. Cook, stirring often; 12-15 minutes.
Pasta: Cook the pasta in a big pot of boiling salted water, I used Barilla by the way. Drain it one minute before the package directions say it will be done. Save a cup of the pot water to thin the pasta.
Use the eggplant fry pan (wipe out the brown bits of crust) and ladle in 2-3 big scoops of the sauce and the pasta. Cook one minute, turn off the stove and add the cheese, stir well.
Construction of the turrets:
Place a big spoonful of sauce on each plate. Top with an eggplant slice (I used my biggest slices for the bottom layer) and then top with a big twirl of the pasta mixture. Top with another eggplant slice and then another pasta twirl. Do this again. Top with a dab of the red sauce. You can also top it with some red pepper jelly but I didn’t go there! I did sprinkle our towers with a few torn basil leaves. My towers were a tad sloppy Saturday but I made another one for Sunday lunch and that time I got the right amount of pasta between the eggplants and it looked amazing!
Dive in to this wild but yummy dish! And check out this new cookbook; chock a block full of great relatively healthy recipes. This was one of the more complex ones; most seem fairly straight forward and sound darn delicious.