October 12, 2002
Eggplant Parmesan Pasta
posted by Carl

eggplant slices

Tonight was an example of why it helps to plan ahead in cooking. The picture above is of the eggplant slices exuding their bitter liquid. It was the most organized and well executed part of the meal; after that, everything went downhill.

The plan was to make "eggplant parmesan". The first problem we ran into was that we weren't thinking of the same thing. I was thinking that we were making a traditional eggplant parmesan. Nadia, who was doing most of the work, was intending to make Alton Brown's eggplant pasta recipe, supplementing the eggplant "pasta" with real noodles as we have done in the past. The idea of the dish is to cut the eggplant into strips and then cook and dress them like pasta with an eggplant parmesan style sauce. This confusion became apparent when I noticed the big pot of water on the stove and Nadia slicing the eggplant slices into strips. (As a side note, eggplant parmesan, prepared with stripified eggplants, would probably be pretty good, like some sort of eggplant casserole.)

The second problem was that we tried to cook the recipe from memory. It was either that or we just weren't on the ball tonight because we almost forgot to add tomatoes. We were cooking the eggplant in a pan with some garlic, thinking that something wasn't right, when Nadia suddenly remembered that we'd forgotten all about adding tomatoes. So there we were, franticly squeezing canned tomatoes into the already overfull pan, trying not to squirt tomato juices all over the kitchen.

Our next issue arose from the fact that we often cook for two. We had an opened box of fettuccine that we were planning to use as the noodle to accompany the eggplant "pasta". The problem was that the amount of pasta wasn't nearly enough to match the small mountain of eggplant slices cooking in the pan. We had three large eggplants, chopped into strips, and less than half a box of pasta. There was not going to be a perfect balance, as Mario Batali likes to say, of pasta and condimento.

The wine bottle, and getting to the contents therein, presented our final problem. Thinking wine would be a good addition to the sauce, Nadia went to open a leftover bottle of red wine from last night's dinner. However the cork broke in half as she attempted to open the bottle. She tried again, this time armed with the corkscrew, and succeeded in chipping a piece of glass from the rim of the wine bottle.

In the end, all these problems didn't really detract from the quality of the meal. The chipped glass did not end up in the food and we had enough pasta for the two of us. The best part is, now that we've eaten all the pasta, the leftovers resemble that eggplant casserole that I was wondering about.