I’ve been a total grandma lately. Case in point: I’m currently sitting in my living room under a crocheted blanket and a snoozing lap dog. Cookie makes a fine laptop stand. My other grandmotherly activities of late include polishing silverware, tending to my houseplants, mending my chambray shirt and baking cookies. I can’t decide if I want to pick my knitting needles or golf clubs once all my things are in order.
A few Saturday nights ago, I stayed in and spent the evening testing roasted eggplant techniques. Good grief, I’m 27 going on 70! Salted vs. unsalted, halved vs. cubed, skin on vs. peeled. I decided on unsalted, cubed and peeled. You’ll see that I didn’t completely peel the eggplants in these photos. I wanted to verify my peeled verdict (ok, I was being lazy) and later regretted it.
I also tried miso butter, an idea I picked up from a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living. I decided to brown the butter first, add black pepper, and toss it with spaghetti and cubed eggplant roasted to golden pillowy perfection. Japanese miso might seem like a funny addition to Italian pasta, but the Japanese have been serving eggplant with miso (Nasu dengaku) for ages. The miso lends a salty, umami-flavored, magical je ne sais quoi to the dish.
I always know when I’ve hit something really good when I lose my grasp on space and time whilst going back for the next bite, and finally push back my plate with a “woah.” In reality, the woah might be an expletive, but my grandmother reads my posts so I try to keep myself in check. I hope you’ll give the recipe a shot and come back to report your uncensored opinion.
- 1 large or 2 medium eggplants (about 1.75 pounds), skin peeled off with a vegetable peeler
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt
- 6 ounces whole grain thin spaghetti (about ½ box)
- 5 tablespoons butter
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons white miso*
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop the eggplant into ¾-inch chunks and toss in olive oil until all the edges are lightly coated in oil. Sprinkle with salt and arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway. Pierce one of the large pieces with a fork and make sure it doesn't offer any resistance—if it does, put the pan back in the oven for a few more minutes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Remove the pan from heat, reserve one cup of cooking water and drain off the rest. Return the spaghetti to the pan.
- Plop the butter into a small saucepan and let it melt over medium heat. Shimmy and swirl the pan by the handle often so the butter doesn't splatter (if you hear a gurgling, pressurized sound, you need to stir the butter immediately!). Continue to heat the butter, swirling frequently, until you see little brown flecks in the bottom of the pan (this takes about three minutes).
- Remove the butter from heat and add a few twists of black pepper to the pan. Let the butter cool for a minute, then use a small whisk to mix in the miso. Then whisk in ¼ cup cooking water. (Do not add water to boiling hot butter!)
- Toss the spaghetti with the roasted eggplant, miso brown butter and ample grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.
- Miso butter adapted from Martha Stewart.
- *I used Miso Master Organic's mellow white miso. It's pretty readily available in well-stocked supermarkets and health food stores these days. Look for it in the refrigerated section near the tofu.
P.s. Find my gingersnap pumpkin ice cream sandwiches on Design Sponge!