Friday, October 30, 2020

Pasta with Eggplant, Olives and Capers Recipe


Pasta with eggplant, olives and capers

October is both National Italian Heritage Month and National Pasta Month. In honor of both, I’m sharing a recipe for pasta with tomato-based sauce, and hosting a giveaway and post sponsored by TheGreatestTomatoesofEurope.                                                                                                         

While nothing can beat a fresh ripe juicy tomato, for sauce, canned tomatoes might be even better because they are peeled and cook so quickly. When it comes to Italian style tomato sauces you’ll see many recipes specify San Marzano tomatoes. The official name is actually Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP, in English DOP means Protected Designation of Origin. 

A lot of tomatoes are labeled San Marzano, but are not grown and harvested according to the strict requirements of the DOP. If you try to find information about them it can be a little confusing and frankly, many food publications seem to miss the point of why you should seek them out. From a cook’s perspective, it’s all about consistency. Open a can labeled Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP and you will get a texture and flavor that ensures an excellent sauce. What you won’t get are tomatoes that were picked by machine before they were ripe, that are yellow and tough on top with remnants of skin and seeds, packed in very watery liquid, and that taste either bland or acidic when cooked. 


Left: conventional tomato and Right: San Marzano DOP tomato

The DOP designation means they meet Protected Designation of Origin certification, with strict geographical and production standards. They are a specific type of tomato with a distinctive bittersweet flavor and low acidity, they have few seeds and a long shape, and meaty texture because they have only two seed pockets. They are grown in the volcanic soil of the Sarno Valley that is high in potassium and phosphorus. San Marzano tomatoes are harvested 7-8 times or more only by hand from July to September, to ensure they are perfectly ripe and only after sunset. After harvest, the tomatoes are peeled, placed in cans, and are processed for 13 minutes.


Canned tomatoes imported from Europe are more expensive than other canned tomatoes you may find, but you are getting a product that is consistently high quality and will ensure a great sauce for your pasta, especially if you’re making a Southern Italian style recipe, like mine for pasta with eggplant, olives, and capers. Head to @cookingwithamy for details on how to win a gift pack of European products, including the tomatoes Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pasta, etc. Additionally, the winner gets to choose a family, frontline worker, charity, hospital, or person to also receive a gift pack!


Pasta with Eggplant, Olives, and Capers 

8 servings


Ingredients


1 pound casarecce or similar pasta

2 garlic cloves, smashed 

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup green or black olives, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup capers

1 medium eggplant (or 1/2 large eggplant) about 12 ounces or 4 cups, diced

1 28 oz can Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino

Pecorino, grated


Instructions


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle or spray with olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through but still holding its shape.


Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions and drain. Add the olive oil to a large skillet, sauté the garlic for one minute, add olives and capers and cook for another minute or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, mashing them with a wooden spoon, and simmer for 10 minutes or until thick and saucy. Add the eggplant and stir until well coated. 


Toss the drained pasta with the sauce, serve with cheese.


Enjoy!