Thursday, March 24, 2011

Japanese Eggplant Sauce with Hot Sausage

Pasta is always one of my go-to meals. It's comfort and it's soothing, and I feel like I move through it naturally without having to think too hard. 

One of my favorite neighborhood haunts when visiting home is La Pergola, an Italian hole-in-the-wall that has that old world chianti-on-the-table charm. They have a little garden across the street and when it's in season they offer, as a special, a japanese eggplant sauce that's fantastic. I set out to mimic La Pergola's eggplant sauce . . . I was nowhere near theirs, but hey -- whatever it was that I came up with was pretty good.
To start: Dice up 4 or 5 japanese eggplants. In a medium saucepan, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is nice and warm, squeeze out 4 sausage links' worth of a nice fennel-y, spicy Italian sausage and break them into chunks (see above). Add some fresh torn oregano and marjoram, and brown the sausage. 

In the remaining fat, add 5 smashed cloves of garlic and the diced eggplant. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil as needed.
Once the eggplant begins to caramelize, add the sausage back in along with one large can of whole roma tomatoes. Toss in some fresh mashed basil leaves and two bay leaves. Re-season and add a pinch of sugar for good measure. Let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
Serve with a nice sauce-catching pasta like rigatoni. Shave some parmesan over the dish as you plate, and add a few leaves of fresh shredded basil . . . and a healthy glass of red wine never hurts.

1 comment:

  1. Yum! Japanese eggplant! This one time? I ate so much of it? That I could never eat it again. And another time? When I was like 13? I ate some sausage that a friend's mom made, and later puked in the mall parking lot. But your dish looks delicious! Serious question: What's the difference between bay leaves and laurel?