I love eggplant and at home when I was first married my mother-in-law made eggplant parm weekly! It was delicious used as a main dish, as a side or tucked in a good Italian roll as a sandwich. She would also make caponata, a relish style of eggplant with celery, olives, capers, tomatoes, fresh herbs in a vinegar base. It was wonderful to open a jar of caponata on a cold winter day and smell the warm of summer that was packed in that jar. I’ve enjoyed making eggplant now for quite some time however my favorite is a sauce for pasta. You can make it vegetarian Pasta alla Norma, or add delicious Italian sausage for a hearty version. Either way it is easy and delicious. Whenever I make eggplant I remember a little Italian lady bustling around the kitchen fussing over each dish that she created with love and pride.
I had 2 small eggplant from the garden but you could use 1 medium peeled and cubed
2 links of Italian sausage remove from the casing and crumbled up. I like a mix of hot and sweet. ( You can omit this if you want it vegetarian style)
I medium onion finely diced
3 cloves of garlic diced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes but I will use a fresh hot pepper if I have it, like a half of a long hot or hot banana pepper diced finely.
1 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes in a bowl crushed up with your hands
1 nice sprig of fresh oregano chopped
1/3 cup nice red wine
In a large sauté pan add about 3 tablespoons of EVOO on medium heat. Add crumble sausage begin to brown after 5 minutes add the diced eggplant and onion and the hot pepper with another tablespoon of EVOO. Sauté about 9 minutes then add garlic. Cook about 3 more minutes. A brown font should be at the bottom of the pan. Deglaze with the wine and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes, taste for seasoning.
In the meantime get your favorite pasta ready, some good grated cheese and Manga!