Let them get deeply golden brown before adding the eggplant. Don’t be afraid to undercook your pasta initially: it will finish cooking in the skillet with the sauce and pasta water, creating a luscious, silky sauce. We love using basil like you would other tender greens, stir it into the pasta just until it wilts.
What you’ll need:
4 garlic cloves
1 small red onion
9 oz eggplant
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 oz cavatappi pasta
1 oz basil
½ oz parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Smash and peel garlic cloves. Remove ends from red onion, peel, then thinly slice. Remove stem from eggplant, then slice into ½” wide slices, then cut into ½” dice.
Combine garlic and ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, turning garlic occasionally until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring often until softened, about 3 minutes. Add fennel seed and eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until eggplant is tender, adding a tablespoon or 2 more of oil if necessary to keep eggplant from sticking.
Meanwhile, add pasta to boiling water and cook until almost al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
Add tomato paste
While pasta is cooking, add tomato paste to eggplant and stir to incorporate. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until eggplant is very soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Finish cooking pasta in sauce
Add pasta and pasta water to eggplant and cook, stirring and tossing until sauce is reduced and coats the pasta, about 2 minutes.
Add basil and serve
Pick basil from stems. Reserve a few leaves for garnish and add the rest of the basil to pasta mixture, tossing until wilted; season with salt and pepper. Using a vegetable peeler, shave Parmesan over pasta and top with reserved basil. Enjoy!
Suggested Sips: A red wine with good body and soft tannins like a Grenache