It was rainy, humid, and hot this past weekend where we live. We didn't want to turn on the oven and barely had the willpower to get into the kitchen at all. Then we remembered a recipe for a simple eggplant pasta sauce spiked with red pepper flakes called, appropriately for us, "Rainy Day Rigatoni." Perfect.
This recipe comes from the relatively new blog Apron Anxiety from Alyssa Shelasky. If you haven't yet discovered this one, head on over there for a spell. Alyssa is teaching herself to cook in baby steps (she's dating Spike of Top Chef fame, after all) and her blog is equal parts snarky and silly. The recipes she occasionally posts are just the kind we like: down-to-earth, satisfying, and good.
But back to the rigatoni - or in our case, penne. This is really a basic pasta alla norma, and it was exactly what we needed on our rainy afternoon. It was all done on the stove top, even cooking the eggplant, so we didn't heat up the kitchen (at least, any more than it already was). The crushed red pepper added just the right kick and the fresh basil just the right zip to perk us up from our limp and bedraggled state.
We always forget how long eggplant takes to cook. This recipe has us sauté the eggplant until it gets brown (20 minutes) and then simmer it with the tomatoes until it's completely soft (50-60 minutes). We were tempted to rush it, but no, eggplant takes time. The long simmering was totally worth it when we ultimately got to chow down on silky, almost-falling-apart morsels of eggplant in rich tomato sauce.
Next time, we think we'll cut the amount of tomatoes in half so the eggplant can really shine. With fresh tomatoes, this could also be a fantastic cold pasta salad! We'll give it a try when tomatoes start coming into season here.
Get The Recipe - Rainy Day Rigatoni from Apron Anxiety
(Image: Emma Christensen)