Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Sauce with Mint
As the summer begins to retreat, I find myself desperately clutching its last remnants. The warm breeze wrapping around my wrists, the last few days hot enough to demand swimming, my final ice cream cones of the season. And of course, summer’s bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s about this time when I go into panic mode – I remember the cold months of February and March when the only local foods were winter greens and root vegetables and I begin to dread the cool Autumn days that bring with them the final farmers markets and the official end of tomato season. It is this dread that sends me into the kitchen late at night, to preserve the bounty of this season… for the promise of cracking open a ball jar of summer sauce, made with tomatoes from our garden plucked at the peak of their ripeness, during a snowstorm in March. This recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta but I like to make double and triple batches to minimize the number of evenings with my oven on at 400 degrees and so that I can sauce some pasta for dinner and have plenty left over to put away for the winter.
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Sauce with Mint (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network)
Makes enough sauce to coat one pound of pasta
1 small eggplant or half of one large eggplant, diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 pint small tomatoes, cut in half
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup packed mint leaves, torn or roughly chopped, plus additional for garnish
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
a few fresh basil leaves, torn (optional garnish)
Toss your eggplant, tomatoes and garlic in a bit of olive oil to coat, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet covered in parchment. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 25-35 minutes (depending on the size of your vegetables and their positioning in the oven), stirring once half way through. Once well browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
In a food processor, puree your roasted vegetables and mint until they’ve reached a saucy consistency. You may need to add a few glugs of olive oil to smooth the sauce out, but it will be rather thick.
Sauce may be frozen or refrigerated at this point, or added to a pound of the pasta of your choice or used in a lasagna. When combining with your pasta, you may want to add a bit or reserved pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce up a bit. Garnish with a good amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional torn mint or fresh basil.