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X Italian Pasta Dishes
Pasta with Fried Eggplants
Originated from: Southern Italy
Occasion: Any time
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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For the pasta dough

Any home-made pasta (e.g. tagliatelle) made with "Everyday pasta dough" [See recipe] or a package [450 g] of store-bought dried pasta (e.g., egg noodles)*

For the sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
3 medium eggplants, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried chillies
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

For topping:

Extra fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

* Even though tagliatelle strips are made with "Everyday pasta dough and "everyday pasta dough" does NOT contain any eggs, still, the dried pasta that is available in shops that seems to come closest in taste to tagliatelle are egg noodles.


For the pasta

1. If not using store-bought pasta, make "Everyday pasta dough" [See recipe.].

2. To make tagliatelle cut the pasta sheets into strips -- 3 inches long by 1/2 inch wide.

3. Bring a large of water to boil.

4. Cook pasta (When the sauce is nearly ready for use -- the fresher the better).

For the sauce:

1. On medium heat saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil.

2. Meanwhile peel the eggplants (The peel is bitter, and so most cooks throw it out, though technically it can be used).

3. Cut the eggplants into small pieces.

4. Saute the diced eggplants with the onion and garlic until the pieces are nice and soft -- about 8 minutes (If the eggplants start to burn add a touch of water or extra oil).

3. Season with salt, pepper, dried chillies and parsley. Mix well.

To prepare the pasta

1. Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl. Toss the pasta with about 1/4 of the prepared sauce.

2. Place the tossed pasta in individual bowls.

3. Top each bowl with extra sauce. Season with extra parsley. And grated Parmesan (if desired).


It seems that in Casacalenda, Molise few cooks prior to World War II used eggplants as a main ingredient when making their pasta sauce. Why this was so, it's hard to say. Most fresh eggplants, I believe, were served stuffed. Possibly, the local people got tired of pasta, and when eggplants were in season, they made use of them in a special way -- generally serving them stuffed. Of course, the bulk of the eggplant harvest was pickled. Obviously, at that time whatever vegetables were grown had to be kept for the winter. Nonetheless, in other parts of Southern Italy, eggplant-based sauces were very popular. When those from Molise came to Canada they quickly discovered how people from other parts of Italy made their pasta, and adapted their recipes for their own use. Eggplants can be used in pasta sauces in hundreds of ways. Actually, the variations are limitless. There are variations that include fresh tomatoes, others that include pork etc. In pre World War II poorer households did not add Parmesan cheese (or Pecorino cheese which is closer to "country" cheese than Parmesan) on pastas that were tossed with oil and vegetables. Possibly this was done to conserve what little cheese they had for special occasions. Nowadays, of course, most Italian cooks add Parmesan to all pastas, regardless of what type of sauce they use.... If one is strapped for time and wants a quick pasta sauce, eggplants are the way to go.... Photo: by the contributor.

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