The eggplant in this luscious pasta salad takes on a crunchy, almost pickle-like texture, and the zingy marinade penetrates its every fiber. You have to make this one the day before you plan to eat it, but it’s totally worth the wait. Excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude * ©2012 by Brian Patton. Published with permission of New World Library.
Serves: 4 to 6
- 10 ounces eggplant, cut into ½-inch-thick slices (about 5 slices)
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
- ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar, plus more as needed
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 8 ounces fusilli pasta
- ½ cup roughly chopped kalamata olives
- ½ cup roughly chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- ½ packed cup baby spinach
First you need to salt the eggplant slices, which removes excess water and bitterness and allows the marinade to penetrate thoroughly. In a colander, toss the eggplant slices with 2 teaspoons of salt, coating both sides of each slice, and spread out the slices, so that they are not on top of one another. Let them drain in the colander for 90 minutes. Rinse the eggplant really well with water to wash away the salt, and pat dry with paper towels. Finally, cut the eggplant into ¾-inch cubes.
Place the eggplant, scallions, garlic, vinegar, oil, chili flakes, parsley, thyme, ½ teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper in a zip-top bag. Gently slosh the eggplant around so it gets coated, squeeze the bag to suck out as much of the air as possible, and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours.
When marinating is complete, remove the bag from the fridge. You don’t need to let the eggplant get all the way to room temperature, but just let it hang out on the counter to take a bit of the chill off of it.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fusilli according to the directions on the package. Drain the fusilli and cool it by flushing with cold water. Let it drain until it’s as dry as possible. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and eggplant with its marinade. Toss it all together, and season with salt and pepper to taste and an extra splash of red wine vinegar, if desired.
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