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Eggplant Pasta “Tambourine” With Burrata (“Tamburello Di Melananzane”)

Eggplant Pasta “Tambourine” With Burrata (“Tamburello Di Melananzane”)

Recipe Courtesy Elana Horwich From Her Cookbook, “Meal and A Spiel.”
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
  • 9-INCH SPRINGFORM PAN
INGREDIENTS:
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-pound penne Rigate, or any other tubular pasta
  • 1 1⁄2 recipe simple tomato and basil sauce (recipe below), warmed
  • 1-pound burrata, cut into very small pieces
  • 1 bunch basil, thinly sliced
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • grilled eggplant (recipe below)
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
SIMPLE TOMATO AND BASIL SAUCE:
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (see note)
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 carrots, cut into matchstick pieces
  • 1 to 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 10 to 15 fresh basil leaves (no need to remove the stems)
GRILLED EGGPLANT :
  • 3 large eggplants
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Recipe Courtesy Elana Horwich From Her Cookbook, “Meal and A Spiel”


SERVES 8


MAKE THE PASTA:

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Throw in a handful of salt, and cook the pasta until it’s 4 minutes away from being al dente, or a little over half the cooking time suggested on the box. Drain the pasta.


2. Mix the hot pasta with the tomato sauce in its pot or in a large mixing bowl. Add the burrata and 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to melt. The sauce should look creamy from the added cheese. Add the basil, and mix to combine. Set aside.


BUILD THE TAMBURELLO:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.


2. Line the springform pan with the roasted eggplant. Your goal is to create an “eggplant bowl” that you will fill with the pasta. In order for the eggplant bowl to hold the pasta, it can’t have cracks. So you need to overlap each piece of eggplant to make sure there are no openings. Here’s how to do it:


3. Use a little olive oil on a paper towel to lightly oil the springform pan.


4. Use a few slices of eggplant to mostly cover the bottom of the pan. Be sure to overlap the edges.


5. Begin to lay the eggplant up the sides of the pan, and let the pieces hang over the top edge. Each eggplant slice must slightly overlap the one next to it and must overlap the one below it on the bottom of the pan.


6. Go around until you have a “bowl” made of eggplant.


7. Fill your eggplant bowl with the pasta, pushing it down to make sure all spaces are filled. Flip over the eggplant side flaps and cover the pasta with remaining eggplant slices, overlapping of course.


8. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. (since the oil may seep through the cracks of the cake pan, i usually place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch it.)


9. Remove and let sit for about 10 minutes. (the longer it sits, the less messy it will be when cut.)


10. Place a large serving plate on top of the pan. Holding onto the plate and the pan, flip them over carefully so that the plate is on bottom.


11. Remove the springform pan.


12. Use a large sharp knife to cut and a spatula/cake knife to serve.


13. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano


SIMPLE TOMATO AND BASIL SAUCE


Makes about 2 Cups


NOTE: I prefer San Marzano tomatoes. Refer to page 40 to learn how to choose canned tomatoes.


1. Place a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan over a medium flame for a couple of minutes.


2. Add the tomatoes and their juices to a food processor or blender and pulse into a thick pulp. You can also squeeze the tomatoes by hand, but be careful of the splattering!


3. Add the olive oil to the hot pan, followed by the garlic, red pepper flakes, and carrots. Watch as bubbles emanate from the garlic; this means the garlic is infusing its flavor into the oil. Don’t let the garlic burn or even brown. You want it to stay translucent.


4. After several minutes, add the tomato puree. You will see olive oil coming up on the sides of the tomatoes; this is ok, the olive oil helps to transform the flavor of the tomatoes.


5. Add a good sprinkling of salt (about 1 teaspoon) and a large handful of basil leaves. Stir occasionally. The mixture will be done when it is no longer watery and the sauce has thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.


6. Taste for salt and add more if necessary. If you aren’t sure if there is enough salt, there isn’t. Add more.


7. Remove the carrots and use them as a side dish for another meal (see variation). It’s up to you if you want to remove the garlic and basil leaves or keep them in for a rustic feel.


VARIATION: If you’d like a sweeter, more nutritious sauce, remove the garlic and basil and puree the tomato sauce with about half of the carrots in a blender or food processor. It will be delicious (and a good way to hide vegetables from the kids).


GRILLED EGGPLANT


Makes 15 To 18 Slices


1. Light an indoor grill pan on medium-high heat or place a heavy pan over medium-high heat and let it get hot for 5 to 7 minutes.


2. Cut off the top and bottom of each eggplant so it can stand up. Slice the skin off of the right side and the left side. Now, one pair of the eggplant’s opposing sides will have skin, and the other will not.


3. Cut the eggplant into vertical strips, ¼ to ½-inch thick, beginning where you have removed the skin, so each piece has a little skin on the sides.


4. Use a silicone brush to coat the front and back of each slice generously with the olive oil, and then place as many eggplants on the grill as you can without them overlapping.


5. Cook until the eggplant has beautiful golden grill marks and flip.


6. Once the eggplant has nice grill marks on the second side and is floppy when you pick a side up with your tongs, it is done. Remove from the grill and continue until you are finished with all the pieces.


MAKE AHEAD PREP:

You can make the sauce and grill the eggplant 1 to 3 days in advance. Just note that if you are taking the ingredients from the cold fridge, they may need more time in the oven.


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