Simply Tomato - Simple Spaghetti

After spending the last 24 hours in a self-diagnosed food coma from my recent visit to Atlanta (have a peek into the gastronomic affair we had at The Optimist on Friday night in my next post), I was inclined not to eat anything for a few days.  However, I had boot camp in the morning and I was absolutely famished.   I wanted something light, but tasty.

Since I was out of town all weekend, the garden needed a little attention.  I usually end up picking a few tomatoes just so they don't rot on the vine.  We have a ton of sun gold tomatoes this year, and I think the neighbors don't realize they are ripe, so they often get left.  I picked a few, and also found a couple of "missed" Black Prince Tomatoes which are an heirloom, rich in flavor and very tasty.

When I was done watering, I had gathered a handful of tomatoes, some basil, oregano, a little thyme and a teeny tiny eggplant (about the size of a baseball) in my basket.  What to do with all these little gems?  How about a tasty tomato sauce over some linguini and lightly breaded sliced eggplant?  And so, off to the kitchen I went ...

My favorite way to prepare tomato sauce is quite simple - lots of garlic and spice.  You can customize this recipe how ever you'd like, but, for me, the amount of garlic and the amount of peppers I use is just perfect.  If you're not fond of this, get your own blog - I bet www.idontlikeasmuchgarlicaschris.com is still available (besides, garlic wards off evil - and probably any male suitors as well).


For the Tomato Sauce
1 lb mixed tomatoes - whatever you have handy - Sun Gold, a couple small Black Prince tomatoes, a Stupichka tomato, some grape tomatoes - all of which have fabulous flavor (I actually used all of those in the top picture you see here - and just those.  Not very many - just a handful.)
Olive Oil
1 large shallot, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
About a Tbsp each of basil, thyme and oregano

For the Eggplant
1 small eggplant
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup flour
½ cup grated parmesan



1.  Cut the tomatoes - halve the babies, quarter the rest.  You want them to have some surface area when they start cooking.  This will speed the next step up.

2.  Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan and pile the tomatoes on top.  Turn the stove to medium, and let the tomatoes get soft and juicy.  Photos below indicate the progress of the tomatoes cooking down to a sauce.  


3.  Run the tomatoes through a food mill (I like the OXO brand).  If you don't have one, don't worry, you can skip this step, or if you are insistent upon a smooth sauce, you can either go here and purchase one or puree the tomatoes in a blender.

4.  Return the sauce to the saucepan and heat through.  Add the minced shallot, minced garlic and herbs.  Stir to combine and keep on low until you are ready to plate.


1.  Rinse the eggplant well and trim off the green stem.  Slice the eggplant into 1/4" slices.  Eggplant tends to be rather moist, and you will need to dry it out (so to speak).  Place the slices in a colander (one with wire mesh works very well) and sprinkle with a good amount of salt.  Place a plate on top of the eggplant ant let it sweat for about :30m.  Pat the eggplant with a paper bowl.

2.  Prepare the breading table:
(a) Mix the flour with a little salt and pepper in one dish
(b) Whisk the egg into a 2nd dish
(c) Place the panko and parmesan in a 3rd dish.

3.  Heat about 1/2" of canola oil in a sauté pan.    Salt (not too much, as the parmesan is rather salty, itself) and pepper the eggplant slices.  Dredge the eggplant in the flour, tap the excess off, then dredge in the egg, and then the panko/parmesan mixture.

4.  Once the oil has heated to about 375, carefully lay the eggplant slices in the oil to crisp.  Generally, it takes about 3m per side to get them to a nice texture.

5.  Drain on paper towels.  I added a little mozzarella cheese to the top of mine and put them in a warm oven to melt.

I used Fresh Market's Linguini for this dish - but feel free to use whichever pasta you like best.  Just cook the pasta al dente, and spoon the sauce on top then place one or two - or three :-) - slices of fried eggplant on top of the sauce.  

I opted for a Ridge Zinfandel for this particular dish.  My favorite is the Ridge Geyserville, which is actually a Zinfandel blend, but still spicy (64% zinfandel, 20% carignane, 12% petite sirah, 2% alicante bouschet, 2% mataro).  This dish calls for something fruit forward but still a bit spicy.


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