Pasta and eggplant are often enjoyed together, whether it’s the classic Pasta alla Norma, an eggplant and spaghetti pie or simply a plate of buccatini to accompany Melanzane alla Parmigiana.
The inspiration for this dish came about because I wanted to serve a small plate of pasta but, in a fun way. The baby eggplant was the perfect vessel to hold the spaghetti and just the right size for a single serving.
I used leftover spaghetti and sauce so, all that needed to be done was roast the eggplant and make the breadcrumb topping. Use any shape pasta and your favorite sauce for this delicious dish.
- Baby eggplant, rinsed and dried
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Italian parsley sprigs
- Spaghetti with sauce, plus extra sauce
- Slice the eggplant in half, lengthwise, leaving the stem in tact. With a sharp paring knife, score the flesh deeply (be careful to not cut through the bottom) in a diamond cross-hatch pattern. This is accomplished by making a few cuts at a steep angle and then rotate the eggplant to make another set of similar cuts). The diamond shapes are more apparent when you slightly squeeze the eggplant to open the cuts. The eggplants actually will look as if they were grilled rather than roasted.
- Generously, drizzle each half with olive oil on the cut-side and using your fingers, rub the oil all over the surface. Alternatively, you could brush on the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
- On a parchment-lined baking sheet, place each eggplant half, cut-side down on 2-3 sprigs of parsley. Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven 35-40 minutes (depending on size of eggplant). The flesh should be very soft, so soft you’ll be able to scoop it out with a spoon. Let cool slightly.
- While the eggplant is roasting, prepare the breadcrumbs, by sauteing in olive oil (enough to moisten the crumbs) over low heat until they are lightly toasted. Watch carefully as you stir them because the moment you turn your back they could burn. Season with a bit of salt.
- Scoop out the cooked eggplant as close to the skin as possible without cutting through it. Coarsely chop if necessary and transfer to a dish. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
- To serve, spoon some sauce into a shallow bowl. Fill the scooped out shell with hot pasta and sauce (leftover or cooked fresh) and then place into the bowl. Top with chopped eggplant and then sprinkle on the toasted breadcrumbs.